Potential role of commercial floriculture in economy of Kashmir.

Almighty God has bestowed all flora and fauna with a complete system of survival and development in the form of mother earth. If we keenly observe earth as a whole is a complete and complex medium of survival with vast stretches of water bodies rich soil cover and a thick covering of air; important constituents for survival of  all the living beings. I always remember the lesson ‘five kinds of workers’ taught to my seniors during my early education. This class eleventh curriculum topic was self explanatory and gave a complete picture of mother earth being the source of survival, subsistence and sustenance for mankind. The lesson makes us to understand about natural resources, food, clothing, shelter provided by earth and employment generated by the survival and developmental activities carried on earth by mankind.

The extreme materialism made the man greedy and had lead to vulgar, brute and ecologically disastrous industrialization. The operation of development particularly agriculture carried on mother earth are time bound but ensure ecologically safe and economically viable returns contrary to brute industrialization which provides quick returns but defaces and denudes the landscape of earth and pollutes the environment. The difference between agriculture cultivation and the brute industrialization on earth is what differentiates a legal marriage to and rape of a beautiful and tender woman.

Agriculture involves two types of cultivations one is for survival and subsistence like staple crops wheat, rice, maize and another is production for commercial purposes called cash crops cultivation like sugarcane, spices, Condi moms, and floriculture.

Floriculture is the latest addition to the commercial economy of the agriculture sector and is developing with all its potential. With overall development in the status and standard of mankind living style and tastes got a maximum impact of positive change thus floriculture made a prominent place in our daily routine. Floriculture in the form of cut flowers and beautifully done landscape around the habitations are getting more and more importance. Earlier floriculture had only aesthetic value but now it has made its place in the agribusiness market and is known as commercial floriculture. The world floriculture market has developed many folds and has reached to the level of billions of dollars in last few decades and is growing with every passing day.

As we all know Kashmir is known for its fragrance, aroma, colour and taste it gives to its different agriculture products like fruits, medicinal and aromatic plants; same applies with to floriculture. Kashmir has got diverse flora and unique climatic conditions and can prove to be a market leader in floricultural products with unique characteristics.  In a recent international conference on floriculture ‘Flora Expo 2005’ at Bangalore a British expert Mr. Alan Higgison impressed upon the participants and authorities to explore and exploited the vast climatic diversity of India  for the development of floriculture industry and his punch line was ‘don’t cheat nature but work in harmony with it with all your know how and resources’. He advised to explore the chill factor of temperate regions of north like Kashmir and Himichal for multiplication of floriculture plant material. At the moment this chill factor is created in the tropical areas artificially at an enormous cost of energy. So this reveals we in Kashmir have got monopoly in certain particular fields of commercial floriculture industry development. The point is to harvest these monopolized climatic conditions and resources and turn it into dollars. It needs a comprehensive planning, research and implementation program. It is a known fact that temperate regions (with specific hardiness zone) make only some percent of total geographical area of India or for that matter the whole of subcontinent. So this climatic monopoly is to be cashed but with a visionary zeal and zest.

The hassle of soil less technology; in-vitro multiplication techniques; managements of nutrients and water within high-tech poly houses are taking toll of our constrained and depleting sources of energy but all this can be handled by Kashmir with its unique climatic and environmental conditions.

Floriculture sector can prove the biggest contributor for agro based economy of our state and can contribute a lot in creating job opportunities for our qualified human resource. Plant material multiplication is not the only sector of floriculture having enormous scope in Kashmir but certain cut flower production at large scale is not only possible but is already in practice in our valley. We have to tune our existing practice of floriculture production technology and infrastructure with modern and latest technical know how but absolutely in harmony with nature and our eco system. Technical and qualified human resource is to be mobilized and utilized judiciously with no room for favoritism. Normally when a new concept is mooted or project launched for economic growth the infrastructure becomes the basic requirement and capital is considered vital for developing such infrastructure. In case of agriculture and floriculture in particular we have favorable mother earth (land) available as vast and huge infrastructure with congenial climate conditions and a large human resource.

Instead of creating artificial controlled conditions for production of flowers we can ready our state for the plant multiplication program and cultivation of certain floriculture crops in open and natural conditions. Our thrust area should be development of waste land, introduction of modern irrigation systems for conservation and optimum utilization of water, proper nutrient management, introduction of modern cultivation and post harvest technology and replacement of exhausted and degraded plant material. Post harvest technology is the area having lot of scope for development. Post harvest treatment, cold chain facility, transportation and cargo space on post harvest front should be our priorities while envisaging a broad based policy on commercial floriculture development in Kashmir. As I said we have the medium to grow (land); congenial climate for monopolized sector of plant material multiplication and unique off season cut flower production and human resource but a good amount of working capital needs to be pumped in this sector for making it commercially viable.

The ultimate concern for floriculture entrepreneurs is prospective market and marketing. Market is being governed by certain parameters like reliability with supply chain logistics, quality, uniqueness and cost and influenced by some factors like stability and honesty. Who so ever manages to cope up with all this will not only lead but can dictate the market.

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