Self sufficiency holds the key
Kashmir valley and Ladakh is a region that has been facing various issues including road connectivity and difficult terrain conditions. Besides, the harsh winter here also contributes to reducing our capacity in terms of agricultural output.
Since these two regions are dependent on its supplies from various parts of India, the two regions have proven to be a consumer region rather than a producing one.
The past few years, especially the last decade has put up a harsh fact that we are increasing our dependency for essential commodities on outside supplies. This includes vegetables and fruits besides mutton, poultry and other products.
Going by the pace of imports and increased demand of supplies every year experts believe that in 2025 the demand of vegetables in Kashmir would get doubled than what was the requirement in 2000.
Despite the mammoth import of vegetables to Kashmir and Ladakh region still the per capita availability of vegetables is less than the prescribed requirement of 200 grams per person per day. This means that if the health consciousness among the people in the valley rises the imports will witness a quantum jump and thereby increasing our dependence more.
Experts fear that the increasing dependency of Kashmir and even Ladakh for vegetables on outside supplies is draining the economy. They attributed the rising imports of vegetables to conversion of farmland for nonfarm purposes, increasing value of real estate assets and lack of facilities for farmers.
Ironically, the farming sector is still practicing the age old techniques and very few or modern farming practices are being put into vogue in the Kashmir valley. In addition no fresh farm land is being converted into multiple farming activity zones and no avenues for increasing the irrigational facilities to Karewas are being planned.
This is evident from the fact that the agriculture share to the regions gross domestic product has declined by over 13 per cent over the years. Figures suggest that the share of agriculture and allied activities to GSDP has come down from 28.06 per cent in 2004-05 to around 13 percent presently.
The agricultural yield over the years has shown a decline as compared to other neighbouring states and regions. These states though being dependent on water from this region have been showing an upward trend in its agricultural output but we being a water resourceful state are not able to harness the potential on professional lines.
The irony is that agricultural activity over the years has become relatively less remunerative due mainly to unfavourable price regime and low value addition, this being the reason that no one even among the educated and unemployed youth is willing to take up this activity for commercial gains.
Besides, capital inadequacy, lack of infrastructural and agriculture being carried out as a subsistence option of livelihood has over the years affected the economic viability of this sector.
In such kind of a scenario some bold initiatives are being taken to get the young people involved in the sector and offer them viable schemes to make this entire sector lucrative and self sustaining.
This alone will ensure that a new breed of entrepreneurs also pitches in and makes agricultural sector a blooming one for the economy and for the exchequer as well.