Horticulture university row!

We need to perceive the issue logically

Providing just a peep into the history of Horticulture in Kashmir and a glimpse of the metamorphosis of present day advanced Horticulture sector we should firmly believe that people of Sopore and adjoining areas have a solid case with logic to plead for hosting the proposed Horticulture university.

For the last more than a month, a debate about the establishment of proposed Horticulture university has been going on in newspapers and other forums. An interesting debate! Where some people favour the government’s plans to establish the university at Wadoora (Sopore) campus of Sher-I Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) and others plead otherwise. In the contemporary social system, each citizen and group have every right to wish to their own liking and convenience and plead the matter accordingly. However, even in a democracy, every citizen is morally bound to assess his mandate and logic for what he or she is asking or imploring for.

We all know prior to European’s experimentation with Horticulture and introducing new cultivars, Horticulture in Kashmir was primitive in nature and scope. Kashmiri people would fulfil their whatever little need of fruits by cultivating traditional varieties with no significant genetic traits and phenotypic characteristics. Late Maharaja had a cue from the Europeans and tried to explore the congenial temperate climatic conditions of the valley for commercial Horticulture during his reign. Without going deep into the scientific nitty-gritty apples having highest chilling requirement virtually rule the Horticulture industry of Kashmir. During government’s earlier efforts to explore the possibilities of commercial Horticulture in Kashmir, Sopore, and its adjoining areas Rafiabad and Zaingeer were the pioneers in establishing apple orchards on fallow and other low yielding lands. This risk (farmer’s every new venture is a risk by all means) clicked and within a decade rags to riches stories became a norm in the area. Interestingly, overstated fairy-tale stories about treasures and extravagant lifestyle started making rounds about inhabitants of Reban-Nowpora— a pair of twin hamlets just a few kilometers away from Sopore town where until the fifties only millets were harvested as agriculture produce. Horticulture related prosperity in the area was now not only visible but dominated the socio-economic scene of the area. Simultaneously the other areas in southern parts of the valley seriously considered Horticulture as a highly remunerative farming venture.  Thus, like Sopore Shopian became the Horticulture hub of south Kashmir.

Post-harvest Horticulture footprints are quite visible in and around Sopore area since the fifties when first of its post-harvest infrastructure— ‘Sama products’ started making fruit products. Later ‘Cadbury India’, ‘Tree-Top’ and many other players joined the cause. At present, even after several setbacks, the Horticulture industry with its nerve center at Sopore is providing millions of man-days of employment and billions of cash to our otherwise weak economy. However, much more needs to be done to give a boost to Horticulture sector in Kashmir and for that, the present government’s decision to establish a research oriented Horticulture university is a welcome step. And Sopore area by all standards is the only suitable place that will provide all logistics for Horticulture research and feedback.

Providing just a peep into the history of Horticulture in Kashmir and a glimpse of the metamorphosis of present day advanced Horticulture sector we should firmly believe that people of Sopore and adjoining areas have a solid case with logic to plead for hosting the proposed Horticulture university. Surprisingly, in the early eighties when SKUAST was proposed to be established at Agriculture college Wadoora Sopore no one opposed it but few bureaucrats with an eye to having their slice and some scientists fearing uprooted from comforts of Srinagar city created hurdles and alas their vicious wish won against logic and reasoning. This time round—four decades down the memory lane much has changed on every front so hopefully better sense will prevail with every stakeholder and all will decide the issue on merits. Science and scientific activities particularly that of Agriculture cannot be conducted and results achieved in air-conditioned multi-storied buildings and laboratories but it requires vast areas of Horticulture cultivation. And Sopore is the best place for research and implementation.

While concluding I have a very humble request and a suggestion to all those faculty members and scientists who have been opposing the administration’s proposal to establish Horticulture university at its appropriate place—the north Kashmir should introspect a little and try to treasure the real responsibilities and duties of the scientists and then decide their support on the basis of merit and suitability. Opposing or supporting an issue or a cause just for the sake of it does not suit to the intellectual prosperity and scientific ability of a genius and auger well for research activities. Hope my word with logic will have a positive impact on all and the administration will be allowed to decide with their better wisdom in the best interest of the Horticulture industry in Kashmir.