The government has taken several initiatives to overcome the shortage of vegetables and fruits during the winters. Due to their rich nutrients like vitamins, carbohydrates, fiber, etc, vegetables are a priority for the administration. A recent study on biodiversity by international scientists in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations revealed that there are about 1,100 vegetable species with a great variety of uses and growth forms cultivated throughout the globe. Vegetables and fruits are essential food items for the survival of humans on this blue planet.
In Kashmir valley winters are very harsh, and survival of life becomes very hard. Our farmers have not been well equipped by the authorities to minimise the shortage of vegetables during the period. Nowadays, prices of essential food items are skyrocketing, while people are ailing from various nutrient deficiency diseases. Pulses and dried vegetables are consumed in winters in Kashmir but studies have found that dried vegetables are not good for health and there are chances of getting ill by consuming them because of infections.
In this article I am going to highlight the role of the horticulture department: how the department carries out distribution, installation of greenhouse shed schemes and distribution of vegetable saplings among the growers. The horticulture department holds awareness programmes during the seasonal cultivation of vegetable and fruit varieties in the valley. We are well aware about the fact that most of our farmers are not well educated, but they feed the people by their day-and-night hard work, so they deserve our appreciation and should be brought under beneficial schemes, provided advanced equipment, carriages, sprayers, fertilisers of good quality, so that the yield of their crops increases.
The horticulture department introduced a scheme years ago to help install miniature greenhouses and provide farmers an amount of Rs 10,000 as subsidy. The grower has to submit an application form on A4 size paper, and after approval from the concerned authorities, the beneficiary has to credit an amount of Rs 21,000 into the account of the horticulture department. After the installation of the greenhouse shed, Rs 10,000 are credited back into the account of the beneficiary. This is quite beneficial for the growers but there are still certain areas that can be improved upon on part of the department, such as:
The department should provide expert and trained staff to guide the beneficiary and provide proper counselling on how to grow seasonal vegetables and tell about the do’s and don’ts. The farmers do not know how to prepare saplings for the greenhouse shed and how to grow adequate quantities of seasonal vegetables. Greenhouses are also widely used throughout the world for gardening purposes. To create large flowering gardens, greenhouse sheds are very useful and have benefited beneficiaries on a large scale.
There are still a large number of farmers who have not availed of the scheme, or do not know about the scheme. The horticulture department should hold more counselling programmes, and the general public should be informed via local village bodies. Seasonal seeds and fertilisers of good quality should be given to the growers at subsidised rates, in adequate quantity, for the yield to improve.