Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, and roughly 70% of the population is directly or indirectly involved in agricultural and allied activities. Rice is a staple crop grown in J&K, both in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, sown in the summer (May) and harvested in late September.
Summer crops include rice, corn, millets, pulses, and vegetables such as peas, beans, lentils, and others. Wheat, like barley, is a staple crop that is planted in the winter and harvested in the spring. Jammu & Kashmir ranks third among all states / UTs in monthly income to agricultural households and fifth in Agriculture & Allied sector performance.
During the last three years, more than a million J&K beneficiaries received direct financial assistance totaling Rs. 1983.29 crores through the PM-Kisan scheme. Kisan Credit Cards have been issued to 12 lakh farmers (KCC). In the UT of J&K, 9.46 lakh KCCs are operational.
Mohammad Ashraf, a farmer from Pulwama, is overjoyed to share his High-Density Apple Plantation success story. “My family has been in the apple cultivation business for more than 50 years, and the realization of the income from the canal of the land has been dwindling for the past decade, largely due to the productivity of aged apple trees,” he explained.
He continues, “While my family was upset about declining yields and falling incomes, we learned about the J&K Government’s High-Density Apple Plantation Scheme. About 3 years ago, I experimented with about 7 Kanals of land under the new High-Density Apple Plantation with Horticulture. department support, and it produced more than 15Kg of fruit per plant. This was a significant increase over the previous scenario, “ he says.
Ashraf planted 1000 more high-density plants in another 7 Kanals about a year ago and encouraged others to invest in the scheme as well. “I am able to provide gainful employment to 5-7 families in addition to higher incomes per Kanal of land,” he said.
Irrigation infrastructure is connected to a sprinkler system with 126 deep bore wells built as part of the National Saffron Mission. As of today, a total of 2598.75 Ha of land has been revitalized. The implementation of the National Saffron Mission has resulted in a significant increase in crop yields from 1.88 kg per hectare to 4.50 kg per hectare, which is eventually doubled.
Saffron Growers’ Earnings
The J&K Government has obtained GI tagging for saffron and basmati for effective domestic and international marketing. GI tagging registrations for Guchhi (Morchella), Solai Honey, Rajmash (Red Beans), and Muskhbudji are also in the works. It will boost farmers’ economic prosperity by increasing their demand in national and international markets.
The J&K Government has also established two J&K Seed and Organic Certification agencies, one in each division of the state. Furthermore, the government facilitated the establishment of APEDA and LULU Group offices in Kashmir Division and APEDA offices in Jammu Division.
Oilseeds have been planted on 1.10 lakh hectares of land in J&K. Kashmiri Lal Mirch is harvested at 1182 ha, Sweet Corn on 165 ha, and other exotic vegetables have been harvested at over 150 ha, with farmers reaping huge profits.
Similarly, sericulture (the cultivation of silk) is common throughout the region. According to J&K’s Sericulture Policy 2020, mulberry silk production in the UT accounts for only 0.66 percent of total mulberry silk production in India. Silk is an elite product in and of itself, and the government is quickly addressing the concerns of those in the sericulture sector.
Farm mechanization is a critical step in transforming the agriculture sector, allowing farmers to produce more. The Lieutenant Governor handed over sanction letters for 100 tractors to farmers and 1035 threshers to local panchayats as part of agricultural mechanization to support broader economic transformation for farmers.
In addition, the government is establishing Custom Hiring Centers and Farm Machinery Banks throughout the union language. So far, 207 Custom Hiring Centers (CHCs) and 163 Farm Machinery Banks (FMBs) have opened their doors. To raise farmer awareness about the use of technological equipment in agriculture, a paddy thresher is being distributed free of charge to all 4290 panchayats in the UT of J&K. To date, 3362 threshers have been distributed to the panchayats from a total of 4290 panchayats.
For the first time, more than 2000 trucks of vegetables were exported from Jammu and various parts of Kashmir to the country, marking an incredible milestone. J&K has achieved the highest yield in the country, with 70 quintals per hectare of paddy.
Baldev Raj, an aspirant farmer from Vijaypur in the Samba district, has seen his income skyrocket by cultivating exotic dragon fruit on 24 kanals of land. “With an initial investment of about 0.80 lac per Kanal (16 Lacs / Hectare), I am now earning around 1.0 lac per Kanal (20 Lacs / Hectare) annually,” he explained.
Baldev is full of praise for the UT administration and, in particular, the technical assistance he received for the Horticulture Department.
Another aspirational farmer, Mohammad Akbar Dar, President of the Budgam-based Farmer Producer Organization (FPO), shares his FPO’s success story. Thanking UT administration and NAFED for all technical assistance, he explains how his FPO is providing marketing support to members, which has resulted in a threefold increase in price realization. “We now have access to markets throughout the country and abroad, which has resulted in better prices for our produce, “ he explained.
He adds that his FPO is now establishing a new Walnut processing unit, which will generate significant employment while also adding value to the walnut product. J&K is thus witnessing a rapid transformation in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, with growing prosperity for farmers as their incomes rise and they become job providers rather than job seekers.
First published on: 14 May 2022, 07:35 IST