Youth need to step in
Our agricultural output has reported some improvement though the land used for agricultural purposes is witnessing a sharp decline owing to rapid urbanization and other expansions.
Despite increase in the agricultural output our needs are met by the supplies from outside states. For our daily needs like fruits and vegetables and other eatables we have left ourselves on the mercy of outside states as Kashmir valley imports more than three lakh metric ton vegetables every year.
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 required in year 2000.
Despite the mammoth import of vegetables to Kashmir 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 too.
Experts fear that the increasing dependency of vegetables on outside supplies is draining the economy. They attributed the rising imports of vegetables to conversion of farmland for non-farm purposes, increasing value of real estate assets and lack of facilities for farmers.
Besides, JK’s planning department and those connected with Agricultural activities are not laying enough thrust on increasing the local produce here. The farming sector is still practicing the age old techniques and no new 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 state gross domestic product has declined by over 13 per cent over the years. The agricultural yield over the years has shown a decline as compared to other neighbouring areas. 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 region are not able to harness the potential on professional lines.
Agricultural activity over the years has become relatively less remunerative due 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 the government needs to promote a thinking process to get young people involved in this sector and offer them viable schemes to get themselves involved in agricultural activities. Right now we should plan to be less dependent on imports and plan to achieve self reliance.