Strengthening agricultural base
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Monday inaugurated a two-day multi-stakeholder convention on holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors in J&K UT, at SKICC, Srinagar. The conference seeks to build innovative structures for holistic development of agriculture & allied sectors in J&K with the help of renowned scientists and policy planners of the country. LG announced that a high-powered committee of agricultural scientists will be formed under the chairmanship of renowned scientist, Dr. Mangala Rai to prepare a futuristic roadmap for accelerated development of agriculture & allied sectors and making the farming viable, steady and sustainable.
While the Jammu and Kashmir government is focusing on adoption of new smart technologies to meet the future challenges of Agriculture and allied sectors to increase the efficiency making farming more profitable thus helping small and marginal farmers, there is a big challenge that the agriculture sector is face to face with and that is the shrinking agricultural land. Kashmir Valley, once a promising food bowl, is losing its arable agrarian land on an alarming pace. Despite standing court directions in this regard, conversion of agricultural land into concrete jungles (commercial and residential complexes) is going on unabated and the Revenue and Civic authorities are only being silent spectators to all this. Along with the intervention of judiciary, the civil society and media too have been regularly voicing concerns about the issue but nothing much has changed. The constructions on the agricultural land have continued unabated and the concerned agencies vested with the responsibility of saving this precious asset have hardly been doing anything in this regard. It goes without saying that carrying out constructions on the agricultural lands would simply not be possible without active complicity and tacit support of the concerned agencies. Indeed Kashmir Valley which is already dependant on other states for the supply of food wouldn’t have lost as much of land to non-farming ventures if the concerned authorities had followed law and ensured its implementation on the ground. But it didn’t happen. Though turbulent political situation was also a factor as enforcing the rule of law was a tricky business for over a decade or so, but it is also a reality that the damage that has been done didn’t happen during the turbulent nineties alone. It started before that and is continuing even today when government claims that it has re-established its writ.
Now that the UT administration is focussing on agriculture sector seriously and has been taking steps to modernise it so that it becomes profitable and thus attractive for younger generation, it seriously needs to ensure that no more agricultural land is lost to non-agrarian utilities. 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 become profitable and the government will succeed in ensuring that no more agricultural land is lost.