KASHMIR CENTRIC FOOD SECURITY VISION
THE TECHNOLOGY BASED FARMING
BY PROF GHULAM MOHYUDDIN WANI
Moreover, we have to use more technology based cropping system to increase productivity per unit land. Horizontal expansion is not possible. Embargo on indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other farm-use-agents is another constraint to increase productivity of food grain. Unfortunately our food grain-production pace has declined. Growth rate of 1-2% has put pressures on our economy. Imports of food grains, an anomaly over past decade, needs problem-cause-analysis. The whole system of National Agricultural Research, extension and field functionaries have registered a fatigue. Similarly, the land degradation, mineral depletion and environmental pollution demands new mechanism to boost productivity.
“State Agriculture Management and Extension Training Institute may help to make adjustments in our farming system so as to integrate agriculture, aquaculture, water conservation and livestock rearing with new technology driven profit earning enterprises. This needs a continued and farmer friendly policies of sustainable agriculture. Technology awareness and application is must to produce more unit of land. We do have a chance as our yields are lower than many countries and even our neighbouring states of India,” said a group of knowledgeable person of Kashmir valley.
Organic farming is advocated as modern technology. We left our traditional organic farming for adopting chemical farming, which landed us in trouble. This rotation of modernity and traditionalist taxed us heavily. We perhaps jumped in adopting or testing technologies without comparing them with our own practices. Now reverting back to our own traditional ways is fraught with problems too. The questions often asked are, can we sustain or even maintain our productivity levels by restoring to the organic farming? The Blending of modern technology of today and traditional technology of yester years may answer this question. Can information and communication skills and technology bridge a new union?
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION
The present day information and communication technology has trespassed all barriers of race, religion, culture and countries. A Comprehensive study of 23 review papers and a dozen book and journals were presented by the author in 2005. How communication and information can help production and sustain yields stands discussed in detail. Strong warning systems for climate risks, floods and cyclones, pests and mites could help to raise more crops. Farming informatics and awareness packages through print, mass and now E-mails is possible. The role of competitive farming, economic survey and evaluation of farming and women’s integration needs attention. Women, the half of agricultural work force, are still unaware of the technological skills. The barriers of customs, veil, religion and social bondages could be overcome by educating them through TV, cassettes, e-mails or other modern communication appliances.
Technology transfer is easy. We can announce technology practices or even demonstrate them. The key issue is its adoption. India with 25% of its GDP from agriculture spends some 2% of the same on its subsidies rather than on transfer of technology. Blending subsides with agricultural exports will need a drastic cut under new WTO agreements. The global market access opportunity limit of 3% import shall further complicate the issues. The international standards of sanitation shall need more awareness at farmer’s door. Our Agricultural exports from agricultural items has been up and now we export around 18.45% agricultural good in the shape of apiculture, floriculture, fresh fruits, mushroom, spices, sugar, molasses, rice, tropical fruit juices, pulp, concentrates and even agro-chemicals. Fruit, nuts and vegetables have increased our export earnings. Our limitations in expanding our exports are infrastructure to provide international bio-safe packaging, phyto sanitation & quarantine measures. Our yields too are low to complete with others. Thus, transfer to technology has not to be limited to man methods, publication, leaflets, folders, bulletins, newsletters, journals, magazine, newspaper publication, rural farm broadcasts or television interviews but has to be supplemented with video conferencing, massive awareness campaigns through video cassettes, cable net works and other local farm telecasts. The propaganda, publicity and persuasion has to be supplied with communication skills like rural journalism, popular participation, motivation and more so through management of information systems. The farm visits, farmers calls, letters have to be intensified. Farmers need information on markets, bio standards and marketing research and networking mechanisms.
Apple is an important principal crop of J&K State. The state produced 10414017 MT of apples from 100702 ha of orchard area during year 2005-2006. The state contributes 57% of national production of apples, while as Himachal Pradesh contributes 24% despite having received considerable governmental attention. The state produces early, mid and late season cultivation of apple. The commercial apple varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Ambri, White Dotted Red, Royal delicious Kulu Delicious, Hazratbali, Benoni.
POST HARVEST TECHNOLOGY
Post harvest handling of apple encapsulated many management decisions and processes that are involved in harvesting, handling, storage, packing and transport of apple fruit necessary to provide consumer with an acceptable and product. The characteristics of apple which determine its acceptance in market place are size, shape, colour, texture, flavour, juiciness, freedom from blemishes and bruises. A proper export oriented packaging, sanitary evaluation and eco-friendly shall improve its consumer acceptability under WTO regime.
As regards walnut, it may be stated that it is an important nut crop grown in the state of J&K. The state produces 86263 tonnes of walnut from an area of 61723 hectares with the productivity of 1.39 tonnes/ha and has monopoly in the export to many countries of the world. Walnut cultivation is common in Badarwah, Poonch, Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Budgam, Srinagar, Anantnag and other hilly areas of J&K. Walnut are consumed as luxury snacks as well as commercially used for preparation of bakery products, chocolates, ice cream, ornaments, oils, confectionery and salad products. Shells are sued in glue and plastics and for making solutions for cleaning and polishing surfaces.
But there are constraints in walnut trade, which need to be addressed.
- These include awareness of maturity indices, method of harvesting and non-scientific de-hulling. Besides there are post harvest bottlenecks such as improper storage, drying, grading practices at farm level. Lack of awareness about sanitary conditions to handle nuts and lack of integrated handling system to manage the nuts. Non-adoption of international standards of grades and lack of processing/storage facilities/orchard management.
Pertinent to mention that cherry is another important fruit crop of the valley, which is being marketed outside the state. In Kashmir cherry is the first fruit crop which comes to the market and fetches good prices. The quality of fruit is good in cool climate. Cherries after harvest is to be pre-cooled, stored packed and carried under refrigerated conditions to the terminal market. The fruit transport under refrigerated condition remains healthy for a longer period, compared to the fruits stored under ambient conditions. Storage, packaging, transport and preservation are needed at local level.
EXPORT OF FRUITS
For export of horticulture produce, we have to integrate production activities with post harvest management. Infrastructural facilities for Pre-cooling, packaging, grading, processing centers, refrigerated vans, cold storage, cargo handling facility at airport, laboratories for pesticide residue analysis, good road connectivity, market promotion through IT network, credit facility for exporters and awareness programmes are essential prerequisites for export of horticultural produce from the state.
“Major problems in Horticulture being poor quality planting materials & its inspection mechanization. Low disease diagnostic appliances and poor orchard management. Low capital-small farmer-holdings and poor technological applications. Besides poor post-harvest handling, industrial base and poor quality control measures and laboratories. Marketing network modernization and poor database and electronic use. Hence new options such as germplasm base, analysis, collection of materials across the state are needed. Besides standardization of rootstock for all important crops, development of horticultural cropping systems for all districts and certification and quality control laboratories need attention,” say people connected with horticulture trade.
As stated earlier, the major contributor to J&K’s Gross Domestic product is horticulture and horticultural global market share for India is around 15%. We dominate markets in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh. Our share is relatively less in countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Israel, Kuwait, Pakistan, Oman and Brunei. But with enhancing trade in SAARC countries, we may have more opportunities of expansion in domestic Asian markets. Thus a trust towards horticultural export orientation is linked with peace and union among SAARC countries. We share cultural, religious and food habits, thus our products could be preferred over others. This needs proper post-harvest and market-led extension and outreach system. Given proper attention we may capture markets of Japan, Hong Kong, China and other countries too. For more aggressive development of horticulture in J&K state, there is need to lay stress on the development of marketing facilities, employment and income generation options and setting of export promotion zones.
In order to give boost to exports, thrust needs to be given to strawberry, mushroom and cumin seed, berries, wild fruits and indigenous vegetables. The local horticultural germplasm needs investigative and innovative projections. As local germplasm is well suited to our environment for it needs less water. The new market options for organic fruits produced in J&K need prioritization and certification under WTO regulation. International bio safety measures, grading and packaging of available fruits, initiates for development of new varieties of fruits like kiwi fruit, wild apricot, black cherry, broccoli and mushroom are the suggested ways for the development of this sector. The options for air transport, cargo from Leh, Srinagar and Jammu to centers of consumption like Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai need exploration. The agro-based industrial set-ups using low grade apple for juice, shampoo, bio fuels and use of available horticultural and floricultural wastes for marketable commodities as gift packs, scents, ornamentals, dehydrated flowers, perfumes and bio-fuel.
It is reported that Horticulture Planning and Marketing J&K has established Fruit and vegetable markets within the state. The department is in the process of strengthening three main operating markets of Nowpora (Sopore), Parimpora (Srinagar) and Narwal (Jammu). So far multipurpose grading, packing and auction sheds have been constructed at Nowpora Sopore. Further 17 satellite markets have been established within the state. Market information service has been introduced to collect and disseminate market intelligence through NET connectivity within and outside state. It is further reported that regular agricultural marketing news as Zariye Khabernama has been started in Kashmir Door Darshan.
Pertinent to mention that most of the fruit crops are rain-fed, need development of irrigation facility in the form of drip/sprinkler irrigation. Site specific nutrient management technique need to be adopted to improve and economize fertilizer use in fruit and vegetable crops.
Strategies need to be evolved for the development of cost effective, eco-friendly crop production and plant protection technologies free from all hazardous chemicals with minimal damage to soil, water, air, plants and animals. Besides diversification of fruit cultivation, cultivation of dry fruits in rain-fed areas is need of the hour. Use of local genotypes of wild fruits like nuts, berries etc shall help in a big way.
“There is need for the production of fruits, vegetables and flowers in off-season and creation of facilities for making off-season products thereof. Rejuvenation of sick and unproductive horticulture units such as orchards, fruit nurseries and processing units etc. Promotion and popularization of hybrid technology in vegetables and establishment of tissue culture laboratories and green houses for mass multiplication of disease free planting material, tubers/corms and seeds. Degraded soils of the fruit crops where crops are growing for decades due to soil erosion or in soil chemical change, need to be given attention to ameliorate it. Above all establishment of modernized fruits and vegetables processing/preservation units. Infrastructure facilities are needed for post harvest management of horticulture industry in J&K State,” suggest experts.
Lack of technical knowledge, lack of soil-tested seeds, high cost of fertilizers retard development of Agriculture/ Horticulture
Hence people urge Govt., to launch Farmers’ awareness programme, provide them subsidized fertilizers and irrigation-facilities to boost production in J&K