“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

For a state that mostly survives on agrarian economy, the miniscule attention given to farming is sad. Two reports draw new attention to the problem

Innovative techniques will give boost to Horticulture in Valley

Srinagar: Minister for Health, Horticulture and Floriculture, Sham Lal Sharma has called for introducing innovative techniques to develop improved varieties of fruits to give boost to the horticulture sector in the Valley. He stressed for covering new areas under horticulture cultivation and make optimum use of horticulture potential in the state.

This was stated by the Minister during a review meeting of horticulture and floriculture departments held here today under his chairmanship.

Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production, Horticulture and Floriculture, Ms. Sonali Kumar, Director Horticulture, Kashmir, M. S. Qasba, Director Horticulture (P&M), A. R. Kuchay, Director Floriculture, Kashmir, Dr. G. S. Naqash, Director Command Area Development, Kashmir, Dr. G. H. Shah, Chief Horticulture Officers and District Horticulture Officers were present in the meeting.

In order to remove various bottlenecks coming in the way of improving this vital sector, the Minister stressed upon the officers to adopt a viable approach and put dedicated efforts coupled with effective planning to increase the productivity. He asked for ensuring quality control to compete in the global market for which strict Para-meters are required to be observed.

Sharma said that horticulture is the mainstay of the State’s economy and government is committed to upgrade the existing infrastructure, which include setting up of modern fruit mandis with necessary backup of cold storages, transport and other facilities. He said that for the facilities of fruit growers a number of measures have already been initiated.

The Minister also directed for upgrading the nurseries at the district level to produce quality plants for the farmers. He asked the Director Horticulture, Kashmir and CHOs to pay frequent field visits and personally see the problems at the operational level for quick disposal. He asked all the district officers to submit their future requirements and action plans to the Administrative Department for necessary action.

Underlying the need for giving boost to floriculture, the Minister said that this sector has great potential in the Valley and stressed for developing latest varieties of flowers which have great demand in the domestic and international markets. He said that large quantity of flowers is being imported in the State from various parts of the world to meet the local requirements.

He asked the Director Floriculture to utilize idle space in the major gardens/parks in Srinagar city with fruits, ornamental and medicinal plants to give aesthetic look to these parks. He further asked him to utilize his experience gained during his China visit in the floriculture field at the operational level.

Earlier, the Director Horticulture, Kashmir gave a power point presentation of the achievements registered by the department. He informed the meeting that during the year 2008-09, the Valley produced 15.25 lakh MTs of fruit which includes 13.87 MT fresh fruit and 1.38 MTs of dry fruit. He further said that 3140 MTs of apricots were produced in Leh and 5002 MTs in Kargil during the same period. He said that more than 5 lakh families are directly or indirectly involved with the horticulture sector and more than 30 lakh farmers are engaged in the trade.

He said that some new areas have been brought under horticulture cultivation during the same period with more than 10 lakh plants of different fruit varieties were distributed from departmental/private nurseries to the farmers on subsidized rates besides, 1000 persons trained in fruit and vegetable preservation. He said Rs. 3.50 crores have been spent under Technology Mission Programme and Rs. 6.83 crore spent under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan during the last fiscal in Kashmir division.

Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production and Floriculture and Director Floriculture, Kashmir shared their experience gained during their visit to China in the field of horticulture and floriculture. They informed that the experience gained would be utilized in the State as per the conditions in the State.

(Etalaat News Service)

Food Grain Production: Why projects executed by Irrigation department failed to increase the food grain production

The production of food grains has shown a decline from last two years. Interestingly, the production has remained static from last 25 years which is a cause of worry for an ordinary man as well as for an expert. The report needs a careful attention given the fact that rice forms the staple food of Kashmir.

However, the situation becomes even more surprising when compared to Jammu region, where wheat production has shown a healthy growth of 8 percent during the previous years. According to official data the State produces 15 lakh metric tones of food grains annually with 10.86 MT produced in Jammu and 4.81 MT produced in the Valley.

The State is already deficient in food grains and imports food grains worth around Rs 1400 crore annually. As already mentioned the food grain production in the State has remained almost static for past 25 years and continuously swings between 13- 15 lakh metric tones. What is more disturbing is the fact that despite heavy investment having been made in irrigation which reached Rs 570 crore during the 10th plan period there has been no corresponding increase in food grain production within the Valley. The net irrigated area in the State reached 3.04 lakh hectares in 1981 from 2.61 lakh hectares in 1951. But huge lacunae can be deciphered by an ordinary person when one looks at the increase in net irrigated area during the last 29 years which is paltry by any standard at 3.09 lakh hectares. Now this needs deep digging and reasons have to be explored for the abysmal performance in irrigation infrastructure utilization. Has the irrigation infrastructure been created which does not have practical utility? Have the irrigation projects been executed without proper planning with no heed being paid to its effective utilization? Where has the money gone? These are some serious question which demand answers from everybody concerned.

Government needs to take tough stance as it makes out a perfect case of system failure. Even the major medium irrigation projects taken under the accelerated irrigation benefit program have not yielded the desired benefits. The Ministry of Irrigation and Flood Control, time and again, boasts of implementing various irrigation schemes which cover minor irrigation projects including gravity canals, lift stations, small storage tanks, replacement of worn out pumps, procurement and renovation of new drought pumps, construction and deepening of wells and tanks, besides restoration and modernizing of sick tanks. Even desilting and renovation of Khuls has been done on a mass scale, but again no tangible improvement in food grain production. Despite having the most precious resource – water- available in abundance, the State cannot meet its food grain needs. At least for policy planners and politicians, this means something is fundamentally wrong.

(Editorial in Rising Kashmir)