Jammu and Kashmir has been lavishly bestowed with a wealth of resources by nature, which if exploited judiciously and scientifically could unburden people from seemingly unavoidable dependence on neighbouring states for essential commodities like food-grains. The soil of the state is very fertile and the yield per hectare could be astounding if only the farmers of the state develop scientific outlook and then take to latest farming techniques. The optimum beauty of the place reinforces sweetness in every crop and produce that grows around here. But unfortunately this is not the whole picture of the state of agriculture in the state. Fact of the matter remains that Jammu and Kashmir desperately lags behind in agriculture and allied sectors so much so that the state is not able to fulfill its own needs of food. Doubtlessly the economic condition of the state is very precarious and agriculture is the sector that could bail it out. But this is possible only if people of the state, and the educated young lot in particular, also start thinking of agriculture and related sectors as an avenue for career. As of now, this doesn’t seem to be happening. Instead over-reliance on the government jobs continues to remain a huge impediment in way of individual as well as collective progress and prosperity here.
On its part, government also shares a lot of blame, for it has not accorded agriculture kind of priority it deserved and nothing much has been done to popularize it and develop it on scientific lines. But having said this, it also remains an uncomfortable reality that people of the state, and ironically mostly the rural-folk have been running only after the government jobs. Although there is nothing wrong in people with farming background taking to some other jobs, but often this comes at the cost of agriculture. No wonder one of the major problems confronting us is the transformation of our agrarian agricultural lands into concrete jungles. This was, and is bound to happen because when farmer’s children opt for some other jobs other than farming, the agricultural land of the family gets automatically relegated into a material piece of property. This land is then sold off, even if for a fortune, but it very rarely gets recycled for the production of food. And what happens usually is that people sell off their precious land to invest the proceeds thus generated in buying favours for a government job for their children. Of course it wouldn’t have been so had the farming and allied activities been marketed here properly. If only the people are told and practically shown that investing their brain and brawn work in farming ensures far better returns than what landing in a government job provides – there is some hope of change in the general mindset here.
As mentioned above, state’s peculiar geographic location and climatic conditions make it ideal for the growth of foods of highest quality. Take, for instance, the ‘Kashmiri rice’ grown here or for that matter the Basmati rice grown in certain Jammu regions. The stuff that grows here is priceless. The varieties of rice that arrive here from other states at highly exorbitant prices, are no match to our indigenous varieties. But that third-grade rice from elsewhere is nevertheless bought and consumed here, because our local produce is too little to feed us. The appetizing flavour of the indigenous varieties of all other food materials besides the rice have been replaced by insipid leftovers from other supplying states. Reason being that the rice bowls of the state have been and are being filled by concrete which means that state loses productive land at rapid pace in comparison to the rise in population.
Ironically, it is a reverse trend here – elsewhere at global level the rise in population sends people pouncing upon uncultivated land to squeeze food for themselves while here in Kashmir people obnoxiously are hell-bent over replacing cultivable land by concrete structures of least developmental value to the economy of the state. It is the insensitive attitude and non-seriousness of cultivators as well as the lack of concern on part of the government including the couple of agricultural universities in Kashmir and Jammu which are responsible for this agrarian mess the state is in.