Kashmir losing rice fields,thanks to failed govt policies


Srinagar: While there was a massive uproar over National Food Security Act (NFSA) much recently, the Kashmir valley has lost a whopping 3.5 lakh hectares of land that could have well been used for rice cultivation, according to official data.
Out of the 3.5 lakh hectares, 1.5 lakh hectares was a pure agricultural land which has been converted into horticulture in Kashmir valley.
Experts don’t blame farmers; they hold the successive governments solely responsible.
“It is because of the anti-farmer policies that forced people related to farming to go for the huge conversion of agricultural land into horticulture,” said Ghulam Ahmed Ganaie, who heads J&K Kissan Tehreek Movement.
He said that the agricultural cultivation is not profitable so people in the present times have no other option. 
“One canal of agricultural land, if rice is cultivated, will produce rice worth Rs 10,000 maximum, while if the same land is converted into horticulture, it will not give less than Rs one lakh. There is a huge difference,” Ganaie said.
“Government claims are bogus. There is no public investment in agriculture sector. Plus, there is only 40 percent irrigated land and the rest can’t be irrigated. Government has never bothered to make adequate facilities to irrigate this land,” he said.
Ganaie said that there is also no subsidy for farmers. “Earlier there were loans and fertilizers available for the farmers. Now there is nothing. Even former union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had proposed that agricultural loans would be given at four percent interest. But that was never implemented,” he said.
Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Shopian says that he has converted 10 canals of agricultural land into horticultural because it pays him enough dividends.
He said these are the reasons and issues people don’t cultivate rice and in turn are forced to begging for ration rice coming from Punjab and other Indian states.  “Growing rice is not a profitable cultivation at all,” he said.
Farmers in Pulwama and Shopian districts say that the rates of fertilizers and other manures have increased manifold over the years. “When there is no profit why will we go for the rice cultivation? It doesn’t give us the root of our expenditure we spend on it. The horticultural cultivation is way profitable than rice cultivation,” they said.

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