Jammu & Kashmir state is an agricultural land based state. 78 % of the population is directly associated with Agriculture. Fruit Industry or Horticulture is major part of Agriculture. Kashmir valley is having temperate climate. Large number of fresh, dry and juicy fruits are cultivated across the state. Being famous for its dry & fresh fruits , which are considered best in Shape, size, color, texture & taste. Nature has bestowed the state with several gifts. People associated with farming, work hard through out the year. But Govt apathy towards this important sector has irked people. In a state where agriculture contributes maximum to GDP, and employs more than 78 per cent of it’s population, but producer himself suffers.
Starting from farming practices, usage of chemical fertilizers, farmers overuse them. Spraying more chemicals than required results in low yield . Further, use of traditional farming techniques, improper irrigation and lack of knowledge of improved modern and mechanical methods also leads to less yield. Storage and transportation of harvested crops. Instead of being stored in godowns. Here starts the role of Middlemen, who cheat & deceive innocent farmers.The farmers are the biggest victims of this system. Sometimes our food producers themselves cannot afford two square meals and live in poverty. Farming is thus considered a business of loss. Even though there are several policies for the welfare of farmers, they are hardly implemented. Farmers barely have any knowledge of these schemes, and corruption further prevents the benefits from reaching them. The plight of the Kashmir farmer is only getting worse. Agriculture is nothing short of a nightmare for them. Some of the farmers have taken other jobs.
Farmers who work hard through out the year, get lesser prices to their produce. Our farmer gets substandard fertilizers, chemicals and fungicides & pesticides on higher rates. A little of these fertilizers & pesticides are manufactured in the valley. Maximum of them are supplied either from other part of state or out side states.The quality of the these products is not checked well in time. The results of the samples come at a time, when farmer had already applied these products.
Market facilities for kashmir farmers is another problem. 80% farmers have no access to supply the produce in Mundees. After turmoil farmers prefer to sell their produce through the agents & middlemen who in return, misuse their position & deceive the poor farmers. Valley Mundees too are following the process of cheating. A big cloth is spread around the hands of commission agent & buyer, price is fixed under this cheating process. Actual price is not known to the poor farmer. In this technology age, our innocent farmer is still cheated. Govt on the other hand has not bothered about this menace. The time is nearer, when our fruit growers will be on the roads, like the farmers of other states.Our 50000 cr industry is in shambles. Govt must wake up & immediately mend these middle men & shall come to the rescue of innocent farmers.
Same thing is happening to our tourism & handicrafts industry. The need of the hour is to provide the farmer basic market facilities by establishing new Mundees & appropriate prices to their produce.
Irony is that price of commodities supplied through other Mundees is fixed at the sellers choice, but on our produce it is not vice versa. Prices are again fixed by middlemen & buyer. The quality products of different fruits are getting lesser prices against rotten vegetables of other states, where price is fixed before selling. To overcome the problem we need have proper system in place where farmer is given open choice to sell his produce directly at farm& on his own will. Further the farmers may be given loans on easy conditions, so that they are not bound to sell the crop in hurry. Smaller Mundees if established in villages can also help the farmers
(The writer is a freelancer. His views are personal)