Modernizing Agri, allied sectors

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While addressing a function organised by SKUAST-K, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha pitched for adoption of new new smart technologiesto meet the future challenges of Agriculture and allied sectors. He said that Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will not only increase the efficiency making farming more profitable and environmentally friendly but also affect the entire production chain positively, helping small and marginal farmers. He said that his administration is making concerted efforts to promote innovative agricultural technologies, Data-Driven & Precision Agriculture, encouraging the use of Artificial Intelligence, ensuring maximum saturation of farm mechanization, besides creating global markets for local produce to make Agriculture and allied sectors more lucrative, efficient and eco-friendly. He also asked the new generation to be a part of the agriculture’s transformation process.

Agriculture and horticulture are the two main sectors that run J&K’s economy. Unfortunately, these sectors were always neglected and left to traditional way for farming without any scientific intervention. Lack of modern technology did huge damage to these sectors and as a result, people started drifting away from farming. The youth lost interest as the sectors were not able to ensure proper livelihood. Now that the Union Territory government has decided to give boost to the sector and introduce modern technologies, hopefully the farming will attract the young generation and thus taking care of the issue of unemployment.

Recently The Jammu and Kashmir administration restructured the agriculture production department with the aim of doubling income of farmers, orchardists and people dependent on animal, sheep husbandry and fisheries for their livelihood. The restructuring is undoubtedly going to give a boost to the income of the farming class and if necessary steps are taken by the administration, it would also open up avenues for employment in rural areas. As rightly observed by the administration, around 70 per cent of population in Jammu and Kashmir is dependent on these sectors and creation of a full-fledged Agriculture Production Department by merging three existing line departments – Agriculture Production and Farmers Welfare, Animal, Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries and Horticulture has every potential to synergize efforts of the government in achieving the target of doubling farm income.

It goes without saying that farming, fisheries and raring of sheep and other live stock is almost an exclusive activity of rural areas. If not every farmer but a larger number is of those who own at least one cow or some sheep. They have avenues available to go for the activities under animal and sheep husbandry schemes but don’t do so because of the redtapism and back-breaking formalities that the concerned departments want them to fulfill. Restructuring of the department and bringing all the sectors together, would ensure that all schemes for welfare of the population engaged in these sectors are available under one umbrella in a single department and therefore the benefits of various schemes available in these sectors can be converged and made available to farmers, orchardists and others as a comprehensive package.

The restructuring besides the use of modern technologies would be a milestone in promoting the agri-entrepreneurship as a means of high return and respectable employment in a big way. Modern technological interventions would help them to increase the productivity in the related fields. The decision is a great farmer-friendly decision and one would expect the concerned authorities to take up the upliftment of these sectors on priority basis.

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