Safeguarding the future of growers, farmers!
Being an agrarian society, Kashmir economy largely depends upon farmers and growers while they (farmers and growers), in turn, depend upon various infrastructural and nuanced support provided by the government.
Better marketing strategies, more storage, better schemes to boost the production and also compensation if hit but adverse climatic conditions- should ideally be the prerogative of government. But is it so? Kashmir Images reporter Aaqib Naik tries to find out in South Kashmir, the apple capital of JK.
Farmers, in general, are not getting any benefit from the government side for upliftment of their businesses while fruit growers are facing a lot of problems too. The first thing is that the spray we use in our orchids on our own account without having any proper knowledge. From last 30 years, I have been growing fruits but I have never seen any help from the concerned department, neither any specific guideline about how to increase our market. If there would have been any juice factory in our area that would prove beneficial for us as our 3rd grade apples are of no use and we have to sell them at very low rate. We work very hard to grow fruits but we usually run in losses.
There is no initiative by the government or horticulture department for fruit growers in terms of growing the business. I have never seen any employee from horticulture department who could be helpful, neither are we aware about any schemes that the government launches for farmers and fruit growers in our area. There is no specific info regarding the sprays that we use in our orchids and we don’t get any support equipment on subsidized rates.
Neither the claims of marketing nor the strategies for increasing fruit production, is of any help to the farmers here while as in states like Himachal Pradesh, there are numerous schemes meant for farmers and growers.
Here the schemes remain only on papers. Be it cold storages or introduction of high-yielding crops, the local farmers and growers are not able to explore any such possibilities as the system here hardly works. The department has had hegemonic attitude when it comes to charging farmers and growers for cold storage etc. Besides, subsidies which are provided to growers for their uplifment are executed by government according to its own narrative without any proper consulation with the farmers.
Pesticides, which also come at high rates, are inaccessible for a common farmer who cannot afford them at all. There are no set policies for horticulture which has crashed the fruit market of area.
The income of district Shopian is largely dependent on production of fruits, especially apple, which is diminishing day by day due to unavailability of latest techniques, Schemes under Horticulture department etc. while there is no intervention by the government to see why the production is going down, the department has no scheme to help farmers and growers in distress. In my entire life, I have never seen any horticulture employee visiting our area to test the crops when these get damaged. Different sophisticated equipments with the horticulture department are not provided to common people in a systematic manner which is a matter of concern.
Government has never played any role for uplifting and helping our fruit business. I can say one thing whenever we need any financial support we have to directly contact to banks for which we have to mortgage our properties. Further, Horticulture department has never approached common farmers to create awareness regarding different scientific and modern ways of fruit business and the different equipments under subsidy schemes which are meant for farmers are distributed to people who have good relation with authorities or their well-wishers.
Presently my annual production of apple is 3000 boxes but I have never seen in my life any support, any help from government or horticulture department. They don’t even visit our area, whatever we do whether its spray schedule, pesticides or fruit marketing- we do it ourselves and rely on experience alone. I, once applied for a spray motor machine under subsidy scheme but all I got was fake assurances. I was made to run around offices but all that effort was in vain as nothing really happened and I never got machine.
The state government has miserably failed to help and assist the fruit growers of District Shopian. Be it guiding for better yields and production or support for infrastructural development, it is not happening at all. We don’t have adequate cold storage, we lack proper transportation, we lack information regarding different sprays and a lot of production is wasted in absence of alternative marketing strategies- be it exploring juice factories across India or establishing a few here.
We are dismayed at this cold attitude by the government.
Recently when our apple trees were affected by some disease, we waited for the concerned department to take samples and find out what was wrong. Unfortunately, it takes too much of time and the intervention comes too late when the damage is already done.
There is no such scheme to come to the rescue of those growers who might have suffered losses due to weather or other reasons.
Neither government nor horticulture department has ever been instrumental in uplifting the fruit business in terms of providing loans, subsidies on different equipments, pesticides or any guidelines for a grower. Horticulture department is just a name and nothing beyond that for us. Various equipments which come under different subsidy schemes and are meant for growers are not distributed in a systematic manner.
It seems that the Horticulture department is set up just for formality having zero record of field work. Recently when Alternaria leaf blotch disease engulfed whole district, we didn’t see any one from the department coming forward to guide us about pesticides to be used. Shopian is famous for its apple cultivation which is famous across the country but the fruit market is crashing gradually.