Kashmir has been bestowed by nature in many ways. Be it our scenic beauty of mountains, meadows, water bodies, grasslands, glaciers to our distinct climatic conditions. Being a temperate region and having very unique climatic conditions from rest of the country, we are having an edge to excel in the cultivation of temperate fruits and other important crops not only at national level but at international level too.
This signifies the importance of Horticulture sector that is one of the emerging industry in the state and has an ability to boost the state economy. Let’s discuss about this sector-its past, present and future and the challenges ahead:
Take the example of almond which is one of the major nut crop of the state. Due the introduction of Californian almonds (high quality and cheap) in the Indian and international market our almonds lost the market. The farmers were left with no option other than to cut down almond trees.
The summer capital (Srinagar) alone lost 48% of land under the produce and same is the case with other districts. Similar is the story of our Walnuts. Under these circumstances there is the huge responsibility on our prestigious institute (SKUAST-K) to evolve the high quality market oriented varieties.
Lack of extension
This is another hurdle in the successful implementation of modern and advanced scientific techniques. Our research and introduction of new schemes will be of no use, unless and until they do not reach the farmers field because at the end of the day it’s only the farmer who is going to adopt it.
Therefore, it’s very essential that the research from our laboratories and experimental fields must reach the farmers field. In this regard the university and other line departments have to play a leading role to get the farmers trained and to make them familiar with new scientific methods and market interventions.
Especially in case of HDP, it’s of paramount importance to train the farmers as the system needs a totally different approach compared to our traditional farming.
Lack of skilled persons
Although the state government created a new department of Horticulture to boost this sector but there is dearth of trained and skilled persons in the department. The government must involve the skilled horticulturists, horticultural graduates to make this more vibrant.
Lack of marketing facilities:
Due to non-availability of marketing facilities at proper time there is a significant loss of our produce. At present we are running 30-35percent post-harvest losses. Therefore it is very important to provide assured marketing facilities and direct benefits to the farming community as far as “Doubling Farmers Income by 2022” is concerned.
Keeping in view the immense contribution of this prestigious sector we all should work whole heartedly to modernize it. All the bottleneck in the implementation and adaptation of modern horticulture must be removed.
The government on its part should frame and implement farmer friendly policies and the dearth of manpower should be addressed to generate the employment avenues for horticulture students and to make the department more and more vibrant.
The announcement of Horticulture University in the state is a welcome step that will help to focus more on this sector.