The Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has chalked out a comprehensive agricultural transformation plan in aspirational border and hilly district Kupwara. The plan is presently operational and is being implemented on priority basis, first time, creating history.
The district is spread on an area of 2379 square kilometers including 1651 square kilometer of forest area, situated on an average altitude of 5300 feet above sea level. About 70% population of the district depends on the agriculture and allied activities.
Nature has bestowed the district with scenic beauty and is resourceful in Agriculture and allied sectors.
In order to exploit its agricultural potential, the Government has undertaken a multipronged strategy by introducing various centrally sponsored schemes which has proved as a game changer in agrarian economy which is backbone of the sustenance of rural masses.
During the recent past, intervention of various flagship programmes/schemes like PM KISAN, PM KMY, Soil Health card scheme, Farm Mechanization, MadhuKranti PMKSY were directly implemented and monitored by NITI Ayog, resulting in a viable and significant change in various developmental indicators of the district.
The department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare intends to bring the agriculture on sustainable Commercial lines with the objective to explore entrepreneurship opportunities in Agriculture for educated unemployed youth of the district.
According to Chief Agriculture officer (CAO) Kupwara, Nazir Ahmad Wani, the mechanization of the agriculture sector, provision of quality seed, efficient water management system and assistance in livestock farming were transforming the Agriculture sector into a high-yielding economic entity.
He also informed that Farm Mechanization has proved a game changer in the field of Agriculture under which introduction of Farm Machinery like tractors, tillers, farm machinery banks, Custom hiring centers, Weeders, Irrigation Pump sets, Brush Cutters, innovative farm tools to the farmers has reduced farm drudgery to a greater extent. The farming operations have speeded up and this has helped farmers to reduce the cost of cultivation viz a viz carrying timely farm operations thereby influencing crop production and productivity. He said, this has resulted into increased yield and reduced farming costs, which had further boosted the income of the farmers; thus the slogan raised by the Prime Minister of India to double the income of the farmers is being translated into reality.
The CAO said, “Introduction of high yielding varieties of paddy like SR-3, SR-4 has increased crop yield from 50 quintal to 75 quintal per hectare”.
“In vegetable crops, the introduction of HYV/ HYBRIDS/ EXOTIC varieties has revolutionized vegetable sector. Farmers are now growing vegetables on commercial scale”, informed the CAO adding that, theTomato farming in Hachmarg tribal village is an example of commercial Vegetable farming. He said that the introduction of Greenhouse technology has benefited farmers by stretching the short growing season and production of early healthy crop nursery there by producing two crops in a year.
Regarding Apiculture, the CAO said that the industry is flourishing in the district due to the ever increasing demand of honey in Domestic, National and International market. Department of Agriculture is providing Bee hives on subsidy to the farmers along with training and extension services. At present the District possesses 6000 colonies with 400 large and small bee keepers affiliated to this industry with an annual turnover of Rs.400 crore in the district. More youth are coming towards this sector.
“The Department has taken a programme to expand coverage of crops during Rabi season for which oil seed cultivation has been taken up on mission mode”, informed the CAO, adding that this year, for the first time, 5000 hectare area has been covered under oil seeds, 3000 hectares under Fodder crops and 350 hectares under wheat. Besides, 1200 hectares has been brought under pea cultivation. The production of Rabi cropping will enhance the farming system production to a great extent in the district, said CAO.
Chief Agriculture Officer said that in order to conserve soil and water management for sustainable use in agriculture, the Water harvesting tanks, shallow/Deep wells, construction and renovation of irrigation channels, soil conservation measures are taken up for sustainable water and soil resource for better agriculture production.
He said an effective helpline Number 9596977595 headed by Technical Officer stands already public to assist the farmers, approaching the department for any kind of assistance.
While giving the data regarding the agriculture produces, the Chief Agriculture Officer said that at present, the District possesses an area of 42600 hectare under agriculture crops. Paddy is cultivated on an area of 17000 hectares providing an average of 70-75 quintals of grains per hectare and 10.20 lac bundles of dry fodder to the livestock. Maize is grown on an area of 18000 hectares with an average production of 12 quintals per hectare. Vegetables are grown across the district in every household on an area of 5000 hectares with an average production of 300 quintals per hectare. Besides this pulses are grown on an area of 1200 hectares, potato on 500hectares with average of 200 quintals per hectare.
Gone are the days when the young generation of the district was staying away from the agricultural activities because of its less profitable perception and odd social stigma. Now, with the introduction of new scientific and technical agricultural concepts, a paradigm shift has been observed in the field of agriculture from traditional farming to self-sufficiency and commercialization of agriculture. The youth are finding it lucrative to take up agriculture as a commercial venture. The department of Agriculture has succeeded to adopt and propagate successful Agri-entrepreneurs in Organic farming, Integrated farming, Mushroom farming, Bee keeping with a distinction to not only earn sufficient for themselves but creating jobs for other youth and showing a path for development to the less privileged unemployed youth.
Various farmers including Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh, Ayaz Ahmad Khan, Altaf Hussain Bhat, Showkat Ahmad Mir, Mohammad Iqbal Shah representing various villages of Kupwara district have taken much interest in agriculture sector and have come up with success stories in different fields of agriculture activities including vegetable farming, apiculture and paddy farming. They have shown their satisfaction with the implementation of new and innovative schemes introduced by the present Government headed by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha and appealed the unemployed educated youth to come forward and adopt the new agricultural concepts to generate their livelihood.