Akeel Rashid

Of feigning concern over horticulture sector

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The sudden snowfall in the last week of November brought with it both glee and gloom for the people of Kashmir as the feeling of cheer was evident on the social media on which netizens shared welcoming pictures and videos of the season’s first snowfall. While as the feeling of gloom arrived a bit late. As the clock struck evening hours, people began to bear the brunt of administrative unpreparedness. The valley reeled under darkness as electricity, like forever, became the first casualty of the sudden snowfall.

The real tragedy of snowfall struck on the next morning when fruit growers opened their eyes to the havoc wreaked by the snowfall in their orchids following which the administration in Kashmir division began to calculate the worth of Horticulture sector. It was good to see administration realizing the impact of snowfall on “thousand crore horticulture sector” but at the same time, it fails to witness the economic decline of this sector, which continues to be a reality since decades. The situation begs a question — Why isn’t the horticulture sector reflecting any progress? Well, the answer is: Fruit growers in Kashmir have been never exposed to the full potential of the horticulture sector. Period.

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As the concerned authorities in Kashmir appear way too concerned about the losses incurred on the Horticulture sector due to recent snowfall, I would like to help them in widening the scope of their concerns. The inclement weather is not going to harm the horticulture sector forever as such situation may arise once again in the next year or such a situation may not prevail again in the next 5-10 years, but what actually harms the Horticulture sector is its non-recognition. The industrial recognition to the Horticulture sector would surely make a huge difference in ensuring self-compensation of the losses incurred by natural calamities.

More to the point, what have the politicians, who are expressing grief over the losses to horticulture sector and echoing the desperate demands of fruit growers which can deliver nothing but short-term benefits, done during their respective tenures with regard to the recognition of Horticulture sector as an industry?

Following every natural calamity, the fruit growers are literally made to beg in the name of compensation and the politicians exploit this helplessness to score political points and the situation also opens the gateway of corruption for the civil administration. Who is going to deny the fact that a single reform in the potential Horticulture sector can make the sector self-sufficient to face calamities?

Read Also: Use of colours, ripening agents on apple continues unchecked in Kashmir 

It was good to see the Hurriyat people, for the first time, featuring on the business pages of local newspapers and expressing their sadness and concern for what had unfolded in the orchids of valley. I would be happy to find them featuring more and more on the business pages of the newspapers and doing so will require them to link their style of politics to the economic status of Kashmir.

Now when the horticulture sector has caught headlines following the heavy losses incurred by the sudden snowfall, the fruit growers should come up with some vision and demand something concrete from the government which would deliver long-term benefits. But the case is different when one happens to go through the demands that have been raised by the fruit growers; they are demanding compensation and reduction in bank debts. These demands will serve them no purpose other than increasing their reliance on the ill-equipped Horticulture department. Given the fact that it is beyond the financial capability of Jammu and Kashmir State to compensate – constantly – the losses of thousands of crores, the institutionalization of the sector is the only way forward.

The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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