Agriculture sector in Kashmir.

Kashmir has prospects and potential to excel in only few sectors of economy activity, Agrarian economy (Horticulture to be precise), tourism industry, handicrafts, and hydroelectric power production. Agriculture being directly related with subsistence and survival of mankind is the most vital of all. These sectors particularly agriculture needs to be emphasized for better harvest of maximum potential benefits.

Agriculture is a broad term derived from Latin words ‘Ager’ and  ‘cultra’ meaning field and cultivation respectively, so Agriculture is cultivation of fields, and its allied sectors (subsidiaries) like Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Apiculture (Bee keeping), mushroom cultivation etc.

In the absence of present day modern infrastructure facilities, technical know how and quality inputs agriculture was the main source of sustenance for the economy (in ancient times economy was synonyms to subsistence), of Kashmir from time immemorial up to 1947. Contributing to major part of revenue for the state and providing its subjects meager food to sooth their shrunken (due to induced starvation) stomach, even after rampant corruption and greed of landlords, and complete exploitation of the tiller. Land was in possession of privileged few (Zamindars), which was made to be cultivated by poor peasants against meager wages or one third of the produce.

After cessation of Maharaja’s rule and subsequent abolition of Zamindari the land was awarded to the tillers, so as to make true the sweet dream ofnaya Kashmir conceived and cherished by political leadership of the day. Enduring exploitation for centuries, land to the tiller was need of the hour under the auspicious land reforms program. Land to the tiller was a slogan for emancipation of poor exploited tillers from the salivary of landlords. But these land reforms en route their smooth implementation got deviated by political vengeance and egoistic nature of political leadership. Land reforms demanded gradual implementation with meticulous planing, but our political leadership was in hurry and eager to pursue their people friendly agenda and to harvest maximum political benefit out of it, bothering least about long term consequences. Along with implementation of land reforms program they were giving vent to their anger and long nurtured hatred against the out going system of subjugation and its leadership. In real sense land to the tiller should have been followed by complete and judicious land consolidation measures; laws ensuring mandatory cultivation of land and safeguard against abuse of cultivable land.

Agriculture sector has shown considerable improvement and increase in yield over the period of time by the zeal and zest shown by the farmers with infused sense of possession and independence after inception of popular system of governance. But the pace of development has never been in proportion to the efforts made and inputs pumped in this sector. Fragmentation of land is one of the factors responsible for disproportionate development in Agriculture sector, but there are several other factors as well. Lack of long term agriculture policies, different power centers for management of agriculture sector, land abuse by post independence politically sponsored exploiters, lack of investment and lack of motivation of farmers regarding adoption of modern technology and technical know how (till mid eighties).

Post independence arrangements exposed our system to a new era of egoistic; semi autocratic political system full of greed followed by an oligarchic system of governance. Under the garb of democracy this oligarchy practiced nepotism, favoritism and patronized corruption with new dimensions. A new breed of cronies, and opportunists started making place for them selves under this new dispensation. Taking full advantage of political instability, every so-called popular government raped the system of just and fair governance under the garb of democracy. Unscrupulous, corrupt people in the system of governance were vested with powers of planing and implementation, which in turn abused these powers, to create avenues for corruption and nepotism. Agriculture sector like other sectors was no exception and became susceptible to all this menace and was over run by this new pseudo democratic political system, where apparently soft spoken and kind but thick-skinned exploiters had created a niche for themselves

During Maharajas’ rule of exploitation a department was working to over look the development of agriculture sector and was run on European lines, but with limited activities like soil testing, introduction of new varieties in horticulture and scientific maintenance of Maharajas’ agrarian establishments. After independence (particularly after mid seventies) this department made lot of contribution in the development of agriculture and subsequent agrarian economy, but simultaneously it could not evade and resist the gradual inroads of politically sponsored unscrupulous ‘nepots’ of corrupt oligarch and its cronies and pals. Expansion of the department was necessary for the development of agriculture sector but the same was not done with honesty and judiciously, but keeping development of political constituencies in mind. Instead of creating required large scale basic infrastructure (Field laboratories, seed processing units, farm machinery, post harvest technology and human resource development centers) in rural areas, the hub of agrarian activity and technical man power, big administrative blocks with cozy offices in urban areas were constructed. Posts were created or tailor made for blue eyed progeny of politicians, bureaucrats, neo- riches and so called elite caring least for the requirement. Working conditions and service rules for human resource were changed and manipulated to suit few, giving rise to disparities, leading to lack of interest and withdrawal syndrome and ultimately culminating into inefficiency.

For surveillance of mankind; political independence and stability, self-sufficiency is must. Nations are subjugated for want of food and are made to bargain their freedom for loves of bread. To achieve self-sufficiency in food products prioritization of agriculture sector and it’s all out development becomes imperative. Land is not a constrain, we have a good area of developed land and potential for development of waste land, so we can afford to practice extensive agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency, all we need is dedication and honesty. Kashmiries need to rise to the occasion and save them selves from the clutches of demon of starvation; economic salivary and possible complete subjugation. The sorry state of affair of our psyche and mindset is that the pillars of naya Kashmir and beneficiaries of ‘land to the tiller’ program (the tillers) are selling and abusing their holdings to join the tempting and apparently glittering world of materialism. These poor fellows (tillers) don’t know that materialistic world can give them all comforts but not food, because food is to be grown not made that is law of nature. We need to bear in mind that food can only be grown out of land after proper cultivation, not produced in factories. All mighty has devised a mechanism for the survival of mankind and we have to explore it as per our needs. Agriculture sector in Kashmir has an enormous potential to provide us sufficient food and economic stability (from horticulture). To live and make the nation to live honorably, the farmers have to make their contribution and prove their worth by share hard work and pragmatic approach. State has to create an atmosphere where agriculture enterprise will be made profitable and economically viable encouraging people to adapt it not only as source of living but as a complete business. This can be achieved by giving agrarian sector complete priority and patronization, devising of long-term policies and planing, providing dedicated leadership and encouraging huge investments in this sector.

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