The Bold Voice of J&K

Potential of diversified agriculture in J&K

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Dr. Banarsi Lal

Agricultural policies involve the government, different organizations and the farmers. The government aims in maximization of agricultural outputs on sustainable basis. The agricultural universities and research institutions give policy inputs and the government departments prepare the action plans on the basis of programmes and make efforts to achieve the objectives of the government. The farmers make endeavors to maximize their farm income and employment. The state planning policies which are top down in approach decide on macroeconomic basis, assuming that the farmers would adopt them or could be induced to adopt. The general policy of government for agricultural development can be summarized in terms of (a)supply of inputs like High Yielding Varieties(HYS) seeds, fertilizers and insecticides-pesticides at reasonable rates;(b) supply of water, credits and electricity at subsidized rates; and (c)fixing of minimum support price for important food grains and other crops along with procurement system for wheat and rice. The farmers have responded to these policies by allocating higher acreage under wheat and paddy crops which have least risk of yield as well as price. In the nineties after reaching plateau in wheat and rice yields, some progressive farmers started to increase the production of floriculture crops, vegetables and fruit crops, citrus, strawberry and even in mushroom cultivation. But the farmers did not get the proper policy for these commodities’ which caused them heavy losses and they again were forced to cultivate the wheat and rice crops. The policy of diversification has been loaded with objectives like checking degradation of soil health, sustaining the land productivity, checking decrease in level of water table and waterlogging, controlling the use of insecticides and pesticides, decreasing the water pollution, maintaining the ecological balance and increasing production of crops. The farmer thinks for the short term benefits. The continuous increase in area under wheat and rice in spite of echoing of the above mentioned considerations clearly proves the fallacy of this policy of diversification.
The support price with procurement arrangement has been revealed as most important instrumental variables in influencing the acreage allocation decisions of the farmers. This support is becoming unsustainable from the government. The support price with procurement arrangement for additional crops is almost ruled out in view of prevailing weak fiscal situations of the central and state Governments. The acreage planning for individual crops is widely used as a management tool by almost all the developed countries. Acreage planning requires realistic estimates of the acreage under individual crops at national level on the basis of domestic and export demand of the concerned crops. The level of production and acreage can be fixed for different crops at national level so as to fetch a market price reasonably above the cost of production.
Apex organisations in State like SKUAST-J, SKUAST -K and Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture- (CITH) -Srinagar have made commendable achievements through research and extension but still there is an immense scope for further improvement to increase production and productivity of different crops in the state. Efforts need to be made for further exploration of high yielding varieties, production of quality planting material, canopy management, high density plantation of fruit crops, rejuvenation technology and water harvesting. Different state and centrally sponsored schemes/programmes can change the fate of agriculture scenario in the state. Emphasis should be given on crop husbandry as food security and diversification are indispensable. Technologies developed through Front Line demonstration (FLDs) and On-Farm-Trials (OFTs) should be disseminated to the farmers through main extension system of the state. There is need to change the outlook of the farming community form traditional agriculture to diversified agriculture.
(Concluded)
(The writer is Scientist & Head, KVK, Reasi (Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu)

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