Agricultural Commercialization in J&K

Dr. Banarsi Lal
Mountains are the home of one tenth of the world’s population and cover one fifth of the world’s land mass. Although hilly areas are blessed with spectacular scenic beauty, numerous resources but certain limitations such as small size of land holding, remoteness, fragility, lack of irrigation facilities, poor marketing, poor farm mechanization, hilly terrains etc. render the lives difficult. Mountains are considered as the major reservoirs of global biodiversity, containing one-third of all the plants species and hosting 50 per cent of 34 global biodiversity hot spots. Agriculture is one of the fundamental features of the Indian economy. India has made remarkable progress in development of agriculture in the last few decades with a significant increase in production and productivity of different crops. Total area of India is 3,287,263 square kilometers and India has snow covered mountains, oceans, deserts, fertile plains and areas with the highest rainfall in the world. All this help to grow various types of foods plants and have different types of animals. The total food grains production in 2018-19 was 281.37 million tonnes. Hilly areas are located across the nation with a larger area located in the Himalayan region which is classified into three categories comprising Western Himalayas, Central Himalayas and North-East Himalayas. The Himalayas form the major mountain ranges of the country and covers the northern and northeastern parts of India. The major hilly areas are located in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern Hill region and Nilgiri hills in Tamilnadu. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is also comprised of hilly areas. The Himalayan ranges are about 2500 km long and covers an area approximately 2, 36,000 In the Himalayas four factors namely latitude, longitude, altitude and aspect play a significant role in determining the range of agro-climate and add to the multiplicity of habitats. This provides appropriate ecological niche not only for plants and animals but also for different ethnic groups of human beings to prosper their natural habitats. Majority of population in J&K revolves around the agriculture and allied sectors for their livelihood.
Hilly areas of J&K are characterized by the unique ecological entities and topographical diversities. High mountains and small hills, snow peaks, rivers and rivulets, glaciers, valleys and lakes, large forest areas and terraced fields and bugyals are the integral features of hilly areas of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This charming UT lies in the North West of the country. Commercialisation of agriculture is a necessary step in J&K. About 19.95% of the total geographical area of the state is covered under forests. Jammu and Kashmir is a mountainous UT in which about 30 per cent of the area is under cultivation. J&K is located between 32.17 and 37.06 North latitude and 73.2 and 80.36 East longitude in the Himalayan region. The agro-diversity of J&K varies from sub-tropical in Jammu region, temperate in Kashmir region. The average annual rainfall of these two regions is 1069mm, and 660mm respectively. The average temperatures of these two regions are 24.5 and 13.3 Centigrade respectively. In J&K majority of farmers are having small size of land holding. About 58 per cent area of J&K is rainfed and remaining 42 per cent is irrigated. Maize is first rank crop in J&K occupying one-third of the total cropped area, paddy at number second in 28.58 per cent area of gross cropped area and wheat at number three which covers around 26 per cent of the total cropped area. There is dire need to increase the income and employment in agriculture and allied sectors for the farmers of J&K. There is possibility to increase the production and productivity of the crops and to enable the farmers of J&K to increase their income and employment by adopting the modern technologies in agriculture and establishing the infrastructure for the farm production. There is need to promote the scientific agriculture and move towards high value crops like vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, saffron, mushroom, turmeric and ginger, beekeeping, silkworms, poultry farming etc. J&K is endowed with ample natural resources including soil, water, climatic condition, diversity, topography, rich natural flora etc. which are conducive for the cultivation of a wide range of crops. It is observed that the younger generation in J&K is losing the interest in agriculture. Higher peaks of J&K receive snowfall and lower parts receive the frost which effect the crop production.
The livestock rearing activity provides subsidiary occupation to a large population living in hilly areas of J&K. Livestock rearing is an integral part of rural people of J&K. Livestock plays a pivotal role in agriculture development and helpful in maintaining the soil fertility. Agriculture and allied sectors contribute about 38% to J&K gross domestic product of which 11% is contributed by the livestock. The major occupation of the rural people is agriculture and livestock rearing and thus is the major source of income and employment. Dairy sector not only generates income and employment among the farmers but also supplements the varied nutritional requirements of the individual. It has been observed that livestock population of livestock in Jammu and Kashmir has increased over the years. Milk production is also increasing steadily. One of the major bottlenecks in low production in dairy sector is Jammu and Kashmir’s diversified climate e.g. cold desert in Ladakh region and temperate climate in Kashmir region and humid sub-tropical climate in Jammu region. Despite the strenuous efforts the milk and milk production in J&K is low.
Hilly areas of J&K are the rich reservoirs of genetic sources and there are various important plants species which are little known. This material can be documented and used as rootstocks for various fruits and flower crops. Soil is the basic natural resource for the plants growth. The hilly areas have great diversity and along with climatic conditions. Water in the hilly areas is available through precipitation in the form of rains, hails, snow and natural streams. Most of the rains are received in monsoon. Maize, paddy, wheat, pulses and oilseeds are the major crops in the hilly areas of J&K and their productivity in J&K is low. Agri-horti production system in J&K has a wealth of horticultural crops. Horticultural sector contributes immensely to strengthen the financial condition of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Around 20 per cent area of J&K is under horticultural crops. Among the horticultural crops in J&K apple occupies the predominant position constituting around 45 per cent of the total area under fruit crops. There is need to give thrust on the other horticultural crops in hilly areas of J&K. Apple dominates among the fruits crops. The major vegetables crops grown in J&K are as cabbage, cauliflower, knolkhol, radish, okra, cucurbits, tomato and potato. Organic vegetables cultivation is also increasing in certain parts of J&K. There is an immense scope for the exotic vegetables such as broccoli, celery, asparagus, lettuce and brussels sprout in J&K. Saffron cultivation in J&K is unique in the world. Hilly areas of J&K have huge potential in the production of variety of flowers. Mushroom cultivation is gaining momentum in J&K. Hilly areas of J&K are full of biodiversity. Small and scattered land holdings, scanty level of irrigation, less farm mechanization, terraced farms, low soil depth, high order of soil erosion and poor transportation facilities are the major constraints in the agricultural production in J&K. There is need to develop storage facilities, irrigation facilities, protected cultivation technology, organic farming, food processing, proper marketing network for the farmers of J&K. The cultivation of turmeric, ginger, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plants should be encouraged among the farmers of J&K who are residing in the monkey affected areas. Seed replacement is also important as the indigenous seeds yield is less as compared to the improved/hybrid seeds. Agri-silviculture practices can be promoted. Commodity village concept and cluster approach should also be followed for the rural prosperity in J&K. Integrated approach on feeding, breeding and health care of livestock should also be adopted to enhance the income of the farmers of hilly areas of J&K. Growth in agriculture and allied sectors will lead the prosperity in the Union Territory of J&K. There is need to prioritize the research on appropriate technologies in hilly areas of J&K. There is need of innovative and holistic approach for commercialization of agriculture in J&K. Commercialisation in agriculture can raise the farm income and generate employment opportunities in the rural areas of J&K.