Dr D P Abrol
The topics are grouped and placed in four sections namely Historical, Heritage, Food Crops and Wisdom. The book is dedicated to the Artistic Presentation of Shridi Baba Parivar and in the memory of late Dr.Y L Nene, luminary Agricultural Scientist of Global repute for developing interest in the author for tracing and documenting the Kashmir Agricultural Heritage Practices.
It includes two forewords by Dr.SPS Beniwal, Chairman,Asian Agri-History Foundation(AAHF) college of Agriculture, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar ,Udham Singh Nagar ,Uttrakhand and Prof.(Dr.) B L Jalali,Formerly Director of Research,CCS Haryana Agricultural University Hissar, Haryana.
Heritage in general concerns the inherited values acquired and passed on from one generation to other. Agricultural heritage as such deals with the cultural practices followed by our ancestors which have sustained the population since time immemorial. Kashmir specific agricultural practices pertaining to food and other crops grown in ancient Kashmir have been compiled and placed in this book.
Section A, Historical, extended to 54 pages include 8 essays devoted to Suyya a great medieval hydraulic engineer of Kashmir being a contemporary of king Avantivarman of Utpal dynasty(855-883 AD) who brought prosperity to Kashmir agriculture by introducing irrigation system and taming river Jhelum to prevent frequent floods. Hop cultivation practices followed during mid 20th century and finally abandoning its cultivations because of cheap imports from Europe and USA making the local production less profitable. Credit of introducing Public distribution of food grains and other essential commodities in Kashmir from 1942 onwards goes to an astute administrator Raja Narandra Nath Koul, much before it was implemented in rest of India. Contributions of less known Agricultural Officers mostly belonging to pre-independence era in shaping the scientific agricultural development have been highlighted. Historical facts pertaining to Agricultural Education and Research in Kashmir resulting into the delayed establishment of SKUAST (J&K) stand documented. International cooperation for sustainable farm production practices demonstrated by the volunteers of OISCA International Tokyo Japan (NGO) to Kashmir farmers during mid sixties of last century is placed on record. Introduction of commercially important willow species from UK during 1917 on the recommendation of Walter R Lawrence to boost Kashmir willow cricket bat production and wicker artisans’ income is detailed along with the availability of local willow germplasm. Nineteen decades of Mycology and Plant Pathology as a subject in Jammu and Kashmir compiles the milestones achieved .
Section B, Heritage, covering 40 pages include detailed account of dry fruits like Walnut, avenue tree like Chenar, Elm and condiment plant like saffron for which Kashmir has unique identity.Geo-History and traditional farming calendar followed in Kashmir since long, traditional methods of sun drying of fruits and vegetables and their use during severe winter months is fully described.
Section C,Food Crops, covering 33 pages describe fully the traditional methods of growing food crops like vegetables,rice,water chestnut and Kulfa a super wild food herb for Poshan Vatikas.
Section D,Wisdom, covering 20 pages cover the detailed information about the origin and study of Kashmir valley soils, wisdom plant like wai gander(Sweet flag),bounties from sweet cherry tree and some field and fruit crops which got abandoned in Kashmir in view of modernization in agriculture.
To conclude, this book is an excellent comprehensive coverage and includes rear references collected from different sources for quick and easy understanding of the subject. It will definitely serve as an excellent scholarly book for one and all who love to know the ancient agricultural practices followed by our elders in past.
The author being son of the soil coming from a farming family and having worked extensively with Kashmir farmers in different capacities for over half a century adequately qualifies to compile such a work. The canopy of compages will be useful to all students; teachers and scientists alike interested in Agricultural heritage for drawing benefits of the wisdom their ancestors had, upon which they happily sustained. The book is also recommended for everybody connected with farming, all types of libraries professional or otherwise as a reference book.
(The author is Ex-Dean faculty of Agriculture SKUAST, Jammu)
Dr D P Abrol