Till your lands and achieve self-dependence.
In these columns, umpteenth times we might have written about significance of land and agriculture for self-sufficiency and fundamental source of survival for mankind with a hope that people of Kashmir will not shy away from noble occupation of tilling their lands. Still, our agriculture sector is far behind its civilized agenda. The chain of relationship between mankind, other living organisms, environment and land is nature’s finest scheme of symbiotic coexistence. Almost all living beings obtain food and other stuff for their survival directly or indirectly from the soil. Human race from time immemorial has resorted to practice of cultivating land (Agriculture) to extract its share of resources for survival. Over a period of time, agriculture became the most prominent activity attaining the pivotal role in shaping the economy of countries and regions. But for the last more than fifty years industrialization and other market oriented materialistic economic practices have overpowered this movement of survival and pushed it on the back-burner. Consumer oriented economies and subsequent service sectors have trampled the agriculture activity in many developing and under-developed countries. Sizeable part of valuable land is utilized for industrialization and precious water resources and bodies polluted with hazardous residual matter.
Jammu And Kashmir State till 1947, for long had the distinction of possessing primarily an agrarian economy with modest contribution from handicrafts and tourism sector, but after independence J & K state also turned to multifaceted economic activity. However, particularly in Kashmir valley due to many impediments like shortage of energy, hostile climatic conditions and fragile eco-system industrial activities could not grow in a big way; compulsively restraining our economic movement. Presently, out of all the existing sectors, agriculture is the most unorganized sector with very little adaptability to modern techniques and technology by the farming community even after relentless efforts by the government agencies. Faulty land use, lack of easily accessible working capital and change in attitude of younger generation towards agriculture as a whole are major bottlenecks in growth of agriculture as a vibrant economic activity. Mushrooming residential colonies on cultivable land; change in cropping pattern, status of land and encroachment on irrigation and drainage channels has exposed our agriculture sector to vagaries of worsening. The whole of Jhelum basin along with gentle slopes in its catchment areas forming major part of valley’s ‘A’ grade cultivable territory is worsening with every passing day. Illegal felling of forests and subsequent erosions had changed the entire landscape and course of irrigation and drainage channels ultimately fading the soil and robbing it of its precious nutrients.
Reviving agriculture as major performer in our economy is a tow way traffic, where both state and the farming community have to play their own role. Certainly, for the last many decades state government has done a lot in the fields of research and technology but the coordination between lab and the land requires upgrading and making more efficient. On the other hand farmers and their educated younger generation have to realize the vibrancy of agriculture sector as an enterprise; should practice it with remunerative endeavor and not a mere aversive compulsion for survival. Beyond scientific research and technology up-gradation our agriculture sector requires modern economic and entrepreneurial interventions with liberal financial backing. Several segments within the agriculture sector, like horticulture, floriculture and saffron cultivation currently earn substantial amount of revenue and provide employment to thousands. In the first instance these sectors can be explored further and made strength of our economic activity. Agriculture and its allied sectors in Kashmir cannot be dealt and conjoined with larger perspective of regional agriculture scenario. Kashmir being unique in many ways requires unique localized interventions of special nature and package. Its topography, climate, ambiance; distinct aroma and taste within its fruits and flowers make it incomparable. This exclusiveness can be explored and tapped making an exclusive brand of our own. Since, most of our people are directly or indirectly involved with agriculture and its related sectors, we as a nation with an open eye for agenda of ‘self sufficiency’ should devotedly embrace agriculture as a profession and fulfill our national responsibility to till our lands dutifully for the survival of mankind.