Reforms in agriculture sector in Jammu and Kashmir during the past three years have increased the income of farmers and paved the way for ensuring food security in the region.
After August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — the government has worked hard to clear the impediments that prevented the farmers from making their ends meet.
The Agriculture Department in the first 10 months of this year spent Rs 2.5 crore to produce seeds in its farms across Kashmir on modern scientific lines.
The quality seeds are vital for the successful cultivation of crops. Officials ensured that more and more farmers get access to the quality seeds of different crops at affordable prices. Their efforts yielded results as the quality of the crops has improved and farmers are getting a good price for their yield.
There are 31 major vegetable-producing farms across Kashmir and in every district there are high-tech poly houses that are used to produce seeds.
The introduction of quality seeds has led to 30 to 35 per cent increase in the production which has enhanced the income of the farmers in the Union Territory.
The very concept of farming has changed in Jammu and Kashmir. Many farmers are now producing seeds and sending them to different places across the country.
Farmers have been taught a lot of new techniques which have helped them in many ways to turn into successful agri-entrepreneurs.
Farmers’ top priority
After August 5, 2019, agriculture and farmers have remained the top priority of the government. An enabling environment has been created for transforming J&K’s agriculture and allied sectors. These sectors have been turned vibrant and sustainable.
A special strategy has been devised for small and medium-sized farms to ensure access to more profitable markets with reduced cost of farm inputs. The technological interventions, infusion of capital, value addition, processing, branding and marketing of agricultural produce supported by agri-business innovations have revolutionized the very concept of farming in the Himalayan region.
The government is putting in all the efforts to transform subsistence agriculture into sustainable commercial agriculture economy with emphasis on ecosystem services and restoration and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity.
Major sectors like agriculture, biomedical engineering, telemedicine have become the prime focus areas for start-ups in J&K and the region is fast evolving as an innovation hub in the country.
J&K on way to achieve PM’s mission
The Union Territory is moving towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were set up by the United Nations in 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
The climate change, environmental degradation and sustainable agriculture are some important aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals and these can only be achieved when there are increased investments in renewable energy and sustainable agricultural practices.
Jammu and Kashmir is moving ahead towards prosperity and is on its way to achieve the mission of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring farmers at par with other sections of the society. The agricultural reforms that have been introduced in J&K after the scrapping of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution of India, have transformed the lives of the farmers in the Himalayan region.
During the past three years many efforts have been put in to understand issues of farmers. The Centre has been rendering all the possible help and assistance to J&K government.
Krishi Vigyan Kendras have come up across J&K to conduct quality research to help the farmers increase their production and improve the quality of their crops.
70 per cent populace engaged in agriculture
Nearly 70 per cent of the population in J&K is directly or indirectly engaged in agricultural and allied activities. The government has embarked on the mission to promote agripreneurship as a means of high return and respectable employment. The idea is to secure a complete transformation in the lives and outlook of the farmers of J&K from subsistence to modern, vibrant and high return agriculture by the end of 2023.
In the recent years the government has taken many steps like mechanization of farming sector, setting up of custom hiring centres and farm machinery banks in all the districts of J&K. As many as 151 custom hiring centres and 122 farm machinery banks have been started so far.
High-density plantation, nutrient management and widespread adoption of integrated dairy farming schemes are among the other initiatives that have been taken in the past three years. The main aim of the government is to transform J&K into the agriculture powerhouse.
Facilities like cold-storage, market linkages and setting up of food-processing units are encouraging more and more people to become agri-entrepreneurs. A strong framework is being developed for farmer-industry connect. It is generating employment opportunities for rural youth to bridge the rural-urban divide.
Direct financial assistance has been provided to 11.7 lakh farmers through the Kissan Credit Card and incentives worth Rs. 1,706 crore have been disbursed to more than a million beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN scheme.
Extending technology benefits to farmers, the government has distributed paddy/maize threshers to 3,000 Panchayats. For the first time in history, 2000 trucks of vegetables were exported from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country in 2022. J&K has achieved top position in the entire country with a yield of 70 quintals per hectare of paddy.
In one year, a record 5400 metric tonnes of mushroom and 22,182 quintals of honey have been produced. Kisan Credit Cards have been made available to more than 11 lakh 60,000 farmers.
Innovations led by farmers have strengthened the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ and making J&K ‘Aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) in agriculture sectors.
J&K moving towards self-reliance
Support and liberal funding extended by the Centre have helped the agriculture sector in J&K take major strides towards self-reliance. After the scrapping of Article 370, benefits of the centrally sponsored schemes are reaching directly to the farmers.
Centrally sponsored schemes were in vogue for 70-years but the so-called special status of J&K acted as a biggest obstacle in their implementation.
The Centre has always extended a helping hand to J&K but the politicians, who ruled J&K from 1947 to 2019, were not that keen on helping a common man and uplift his standard of living.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led dispensation ended the 70-years long status-quo by merging J&K completely into the Union of India and provided plethora of opportunities to a common man. J&K’s agriculture sector witnessing an unprecedented development is yet another example of how J&K’s so-called special status deprived the common denizens of the benefits they were entitled to.