Srinagar- The economy of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is largely agriculture dependent and approximately 70 percent of the population is directly or indirectly engaged in agricultural and allied, a government spokesperson said Wednesday.
Out of a multitude of crops grown in J&K, rice is a staple crop, both in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, sown in summer (May) and harvested in late September.
In addition to rice, corn, millets, pulses, vegetables like peas, beans, lentils etc. are also grown during the summer season. Wheat is another staple crop and along with barley is planted in winter and harvested in spring season.
The spokesperson said that among all States /UTs, Jammu and Kashmir has been ranked 3rd in monthly income to Agriculture households and 5th best performing State /UT in Agriculture & Allied sector.
He further said that more than a million beneficiaries from J&K received direct financial support of Rs. 1983.29 crores during last three years under PM-Kisan scheme. 12 lakh farmers have been issued Kisan Credit Cards (KCC). Out of this 9.46 lakh KCC are live/operative in UT of J&K .
Mohammad Ashraf, a farmer from Pulwama is elated to share his success story of High Density Apple Plantation.
“My family has been involved in in the business of apple cultivation for past more than 50 years and the income realization from per kanal of land was dwindling for past one decade primarily due to lowering productivity of aged apple trees”, he said.
He adds that while my family was upset over the declining yield and falling incomes, we came to know about the High Density Apple Plantation Scheme by the J&K government. “About 3 years back, I experimented with around 7 Kanals of land under the new High-density Apple plantation with support from Horticulture department and it produced more than 15Kg of fruit per plant, which was a substantial rise as compared to the earlier scenario”, he says.
Ashraf has now planted 1000 more high-density plants in another 7 Kanals about a year ago and encourages others too to take benefit of the scheme. “Apart from higher income per Kanal of land, I am able to provide gainful employment to 5-7 families as well”, he said.
Under National Saffron Mission, the spokesperson said that irrigation infrastructure with sprinkler system connected to 126 deep Bore wells has been created. An area of 2598.75 Ha of land stands rejuvenated as on date. He said that the implementation of National Mission on Saffron has ensured substantial increase in the crop yields from 1.88 kg per hectare to 4.50 kg per hectare which has ultimately doubled the income of Saffron Growers.
“The J&K Government has successfully got the G.I tagging for Saffron and Basmati for effective domestic and international marketing. The registration for G.I tagging for Guchhi (Morchella), Solai Honey, Rajmash (Red Beans) and Muskhbudji is also in the pipeline. It will promote the economic prosperity of the farmers by enhancing their demand in National and International Markets,” he said.
He said that the J&K government has also established two J&K Seed and Organic Certification agencies, one each in Jammu and Kashmir Division.
“More so, the government also facilitated the opening of Offices of APEDA and LULU Groups in Kashmir Division and APEDA in Jammu Division,” he added.
In J&K, the spokesperson said, oil seeds have been sown over 1.10 lakh Ha of land. Kashmiri Lal Mirch is being harvested on 1182 Ha, Sweet Corn harvested on 165 Ha, while as other exotic vegetables have been harvested over 150 Ha and farmers are getting massive returns out of them.
Similarly, he said, sericulture (cultivation of silk) is widespread across the region. As per the Sericulture Policy 2020 of J&K, the mulberry silk production in the UT accounts only for 0.66% of the total mulberry silk production of India. Silk is an elite product in itself and the government is rapidly addressing the issues of the people involved in sericulture sector.
“Mechanization of farming is an essential step to transform the agriculture sector which will help farmers to produce more. As a part of agricultural mechanization support to the farmers for broader economic transformation, the Lieutenant Governor handed over sanction letters for 100 tractors to the farmers and 1035 threshers for local panchayats,” the spokesperson said.
He said that the government is also setting up Custom Hiring centres and Farm Machinery Banks in different parts of the union territory. As many as 207 Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) and 163 Farm Machinery Banks (FMBs) have been started so far. To raise awareness among the farmers about the use of technological equipment in agriculture, one paddy thresher is being given to all 4290 panchayats free of cost in UT of J&K. Out of 4290 panchayats, 3362 threshers have been distributed to the panchayats till date.
“Achieving an incredible milestone, for the first time, more than 2000 trucks of vegetables have been exported from Jammu and Kashmir to different parts of the country. With a yield of 70 quintals for hectares of paddy, J&K has accomplished top position in the entire country,” the spokesperson added.
Baldev Raj, an aspirational farmer from Vijaypur of Samba district has experienced steep rise in income by cultivating exotic dragon-fruit in 24 kanals of land. “With an initial establishment cost of around 0.80 lac per Kanal (16 Lacs/Hectare), I am now earning around 1.0 lac/kanal (20 lacs/Hectare) annually”, he said. Baldev is all praise for the UT administration and Horticulture department in particular for the technical assistance he received from the department.
Another aspirational farmer Mohammad Akbar Dar, who is also the President of Budgam based Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) shares the success story of his FPO. Thanking UT administration and NAFED for all the technical support, he explains how his FPO is providing marketing support to the members which has helped them gain 3 times the price realization than earlier. “Now, we have gained access to markets throughout the country and abroad as well which has resulted in better price for our produce”, he said.
He adds that their FPO is now starting a new Walnut processing unit which shall help in substantial employment generation along-with value-addition to the walnut produce.
“J&K, is thus witnessing a rapid transformation in the agriculture and horticulture sectors with increasing prosperity for the farmers as their incomes are rising and they are experiencing prosperity along-with becoming job providers rather than job seekers,” the spokesperson added.