Kashmir Valley Set to Become 70% Food Deficient
SRINAGAR: Agricultural land in Kashmir has shrunk by two lakh hectares since 1996 due to its rapid conversion into horticulture activities and urbanization.
According to an economic survey, 10 lakh hectares were under agriculture production during 1995-96 which has been reduced to 8 lakh hectares in 2013-2014.
Over the last two decades, farmers and agriculturalists converted their land into horticulture because price signals coming from the market incentivize horticulture. Since horticulture brings six times greater revenue than agriculture, more and more farmers tend to change their land pattern. This has led to the fast depletion of agricultural land.
The survey also found that due to urbanization nearly 40000 hectares of agricultural land has been converted into residential areas. The unabated conversion has led to the downfall of the agricultural produce.
Most farmers blame government and the concerned authorities for not providing facilities to improve agricultural production. Initially I had 60 kanals of agricultural land to produce agricultural produce but due to less revenue and production, I converted nearly 40 kanals into apple and walnut orchards through which I earn good amount of revenue now, says Abdul Gaffar Dar, a farmer from Anantnag.
The reason, he adds, is that farmers here are still dependent on the ancient techniques, and there is no innovation to improve productivity.
Experts predict by 2030 available agriculture land will be halved in Kashmir and the food capacity reduction will be nearly around 70 percent. This will directly affect the lives of people as Kashmiris will be dependent on imports for agricultural produce thus weakening the states economy and leading to food crises.
Experts blame inflation in food prices as one of the reasons for the poor production of agricultural produce.
According to Dr. Shakeel Ahmad Rhomsoo, HOD of Earth Sciences Department, University of Kashmir, The fact is that we have lost nearly one lac hectares of agricultural land to horticulture sector and urbanization. The reason being we have become greedy as horticulture sector can make you earn six times more revenue than agricultural sector. The future is quite grim as we are nearly 60 percent food deficient and in coming years Kashmir will be 100 percent food deficient if government fails to take necessary steps.
The policy makers have to rethink about it. From now onwards we are more dependent on imports from other states of India. Kashmir has the potential to produce more agricultural produce than other states of India but unfortunately we are losing more of our agricultural land to greed and bad governance. The reckless use of harmful pesticides by orchardists has led to the rise of dreadful cancers among farmers particularly from south Kashmir as more horticulture sector has come up in this part of Kashmir. Government has not come up with proper planning of what type of chemicals should be used in the fields, he further added.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.