Tribune News Service
Srinagar, July 7
For more economic gains, the state government is encouraging farmers to shift from paddy and pulse cultivation to vegetable farming as Kashmir has a seasonal edge in its production over the rest of the country.
To enhance the economic condition of the farmers, the agriculture department is laying emphasis on promotion of off-season vegetables, popularisation of organic farming, strengthening of seed multiplication farms, and establishment of bio-fertiliser labs.
“We are persuading the farmers to go for the conversion of land under pulses to vegetables because of its useful gains over a period of three years,” said Director, Agriculture, Altaf Aijaz Andrabi.
The average net income per hectare under vegetables in Kashmir is Rs 6-7 lakh as against Rs 70,000 under pulses. Government intends to change the approach of the farmers towards market linkage to remain relevant by value addition, utilisation of local resources for developing organic culture, and vegetable branding.
He said Kashmir needed to be transformed into an export-oriented venture as the region had a seasonal advantage over other parts of the country.
Post harvest processing of fresh vegetable would lead to the creation of employment opportunities for youth, he said. The government is also introducing hybrid varieties of vegetables with the highest genetic potential in view of their significance in the world market.
Andrabi said land conversion for infrastructure building had posed a serious threat to food security. “Therefore, area-specific cropping plan has a dictate in evaluating economic sustainability,” he said.
The net area of 22,518 hectares under vegetable cultivation in Kashmir produces 1,540 metric tonne of vegetables annually, with a value of Rs 3,078 crore. Budgam district produces the highest quantity of vegetables — 250 metric tonne — in the Valley, followed by Anantnag and Pulwama districts, where production is estimated at 211 and 207 metric tonne, respectively.