The Bold Voice of J&K

Commercialization and Diversification of Agriculture in J&K

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Dr. Banarsi Lal

India is one of the largest food producer countries in the world. Presently India is having first rank in milk production, second in fruits and vegetables production and third in grain production in the world. The climate of India varies from temperate to tropical. India has made remarkable progress in development of agriculture in the last few decades with a significant increase in production and productivity of different crops. Total area of India is 3,287,263 square kilometers and India has snow covered mountains, oceans, deserts, fertile plains and areas with the highest rainfall in the world. All this help to grow various types of foods plants and have different types of animals. The total food grains production in 2022-23 was 329 million tonnes. Pulses production was 27.5 million tonnes; rice production was 135.52 million tonnes while wheat production was 110 million tonnes. Hilly areas are located across the nation with a larger area located in the Himalayan region which is classified into three categories comprising Western Himalayas, Central Himalayas and North-East Himalayas. The major hilly areas are located in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern Hill region and Nilgiri hills in Tamilnadu.Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir is also comprised of hilly areas. The Himalayan ranges are about 2500 km long and covers an area approximately 2, 36,000 sq.km. In the Himalayas four factors namely latitude, longitude, altitude and aspect play a significant role in determining the range of agro-climate and add to the multiplicity of habitats. This provides appropriate ecological niche not only for plants and animals but also for different ethnic groups of human beings to prosper their natural habitats.
J&K is endowed with ample natural resources including soil, water, climatic condition, diversity, topography, rich natural flora etc. which are conducive for the cultivation of a wide range of crops.High mountains and small hills, snow peaks, rivers and rivulets, glaciers, valleys and lakes, large forest areas and terraced fields and bugyals are the integral features of hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir.Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir lies in the North West of the country. About 19.95% of the total geographical area of J&K is covered under forests. Jammu and Kashmir is a mountainous territory in which about 30 per cent of the area is under cultivation. Jammu and Kashmir is located between 32.17 and 37.06 North latitude and 73.2 and 80.36 East longitude in the Himalayan region. The agro-diversity of J&K varies from sub-tropical in Jammu region and temperate in Kashmir region. The average annual rainfall of these two regions is 1069mm and 660m respectively. The average temperatures of these two regions are 24.5, and 13.3 Centigrade respectively.J&K 58 per cent area under agriculture is rainfed and remaining 42 per cent is irrigated. Maize is first rank crop in J&K occupying one-third of the total cropped area, paddy at number second in 28.58 per cent area of gross cropped area and wheat at number three which covers around 26 per cent of the total cropped area. There is need to increase the income and employment in agriculture and allied sectors for the farmers in J&K. There is possibility to increase the production and productivity of the crops and to enable the farmers to increase their income and employment by adopting the modern technologies in agriculture and establishing the infrastructure for the farm production. There is need to promote the scientific agriculture and move towards high value crops like vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, saffron, mushroom, beekeeping, silkworms, pulses etc. It is a matter of grave concern that the interest of younger generation in J&K is dwindling towards agriculture.
The livestock rearing activity provides subsidiary occupation to a large population living in hilly areas of J&K. Livestock play a pivotal role in agriculture development and helpful in maintaining the soil fertility. Agriculture and allied sectors contribute about 38% to J&K gross domestic product of which 11% is contributed by the livestock. The major occupation of the rural people is agriculture and livestock rearing and thus is the major source of income and employment. Dairy sector not only generates income and employment among the farmers but also supplements the varied nutritional requirements of the individual. Livestock rearing is an integral part of rural J&K. .Milk production in Jammu and Kashmir is steadily increasing.One of the major bottlenecks in low production in dairy sector is Jammu and Kashmir’s diversified climate e.g. temperate climate in Kashmir region and humid sub-tropical climate in Jammu region. Small size of land holding is another hurdle for limited milk production in J&K as J&K does not produce much fodder production because of lack of modern technologies in small farms. In Jammu and Kashmir the number of animals per 1000 human beings are 882 while at national this number is only 457 as per livestock census2007.
Soil is the basic natural resource for the plants growth. The hilly areas have great diversity and along with climatic conditions. Water in the hilly areas is available through precipitation in the form of rains, hails, snow and natural streams. Most of the rains are received in monsoon. Five major crop production systems exist in J&K.(1)Cereal based production system(Maize, paddy and maize),(2)Agri-horti based production system,(3)Vegetables, floriculture or mushroom based production system,(4)Livestock based production system and(5)Agri-horti-silvi-pastoral based production system. Maize, paddy, wheat, pulses and oilseeds are the major crops and their productivity in the state is low. Agri-horti production system in J&K has a wealth of horticultural crops. Horticultural sector contributes immensely to strengthen the financial condition of Jammu and Kashmir. This is a core sector of Jammu and Kashmir agriculture and about 4.5 lakh families are engaged in it. Around 20 per cent area of J&K is under horticultural crops. Horticultural sector contributes about10000 crores to the annual income of J&K of Jammu and Kashmir. Among the horticultural crops in J&K apple occupies the predominant position constituting around 45 per cent of the total area under fruit crops. There is need to give thrust on the horticultural crops in hilly areas of J&K. The fruit crops grown in J&K are almonds, walnuts, pears, cherries and apricots in temperate areas and mango, citrus, litchi, ber, papaya, guava etc. in subtropical areas. Apple dominates among the fruits crops. The major vegetables grown crops in J&K are as cabbage, cauliflower, knolkhol, radish, okra, cucurbits, tomato and potato. Organic vegetables cultivation is also increasing in certain parts of J&K. There is an immense scope for the exotic vegetables such as broccoli, celery, asparagus, lettuce and brussels sprout in J&K. Saffron cultivation in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is unique in the world. . Floriculture is also catching up in the hilly areas with a production of variety of flowers by exploiting diverse agro-climate conditions and great market demand. Mushroom cultivation is becoming popular in J&K. Livestock rearing in hilly areas provide good livelihood security to the farmers. The agri-horti-silvi-pastoral production system is mostly dependent on forestry sector.Hilly areas of Union Territory of J&K are full of biodiversity. Small and scattered land holdings, scanty level of irrigation, less farm mechanization, terraced farms, low soil depth, high order of soil erosion and lack of transportation facilities are the major problems in the agricultural production system of J&K. There is need to develop cold storage, food processing, credit, storage, crop insurance and marketing facilities in J&K. Polyhouse technology especially for vegetables and floriculture should also be encouraged in J&K. The cultivation of turmeric, ginger, medicinal and aromatic plants should be promoted to minimize the problem of monkey menace. Sprinkler and drip irrigation facilities should be promoted. There is need to encourage the biotechnology in agriculture. Organic and natural farming should also be encouraged in the J&K. Integrated animal development techniques through feeding, breeding and health care of livestock should also be promoted. Several efforts are being made by the agricultural research and extension systems for the welfare of the farmers of J&K. Growth in agriculture and allied sectors will lead the prosperity in J&K.
(The writer is Chief Scientist & Head of KVK, Reasi, SKUAST-J)

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