Amid the growing concerns for shrinking agriculture land in valley, the valley is witnessing a steep rise in rice production.
Lakhs of kanals of agriculture land in valley have been converted for the horticulture due to substantial economic benefits or for the human settlements owing to growing urbanisation.
The rising production of crop has been attributed to the use of high quality seeds and fertilizers.
The paddy production has crossed over five lakh tons which is a record in itself. “We had good paddy production this season,” a senior officer in J-K Agricultural Department said adding that distribution of the high quality seeds and fertilizers helped in good paddy yield.
The officer said the paddy production has increased by thousands of tons. “For many years our paddy production was below five lakh tons across the Valley.”
Presently around more than 1.60 lakh hectares of land is under the paddy cultivation and in the last one decade, Kashmir has lost ten thousand hectares of agricultural land to the urbanization. “We are losing swathes of paddy fields to urbanization and government is doing nothing to stop it,” said an agriculture officer associated with guiding growers to safeguards their paddy lands. “Despite increase in the production, the Kashmir had to import 55 percent grains from the other Northern states.
A senior officer said that in 2002, around 1.70 lakh hectares were under the paddy cultivation and it is decreasing with every passing year. “If trend of selling paddy land is not stopped, within next two decades Kashmir will have to import all the grains from other states,” he said adding that they had asked government to impose blanket ban on the sale of paddy land.
‘’Unfortunately no action is being taken and government was also planning to bring some laws but it is not being implemented on ground.’’
Although Agriculture officials are concerned about losing paddy fields to urbanization, they are using alternate means to increase the paddy production by using different techniques. “It is true we are losing paddy land. But, still by distributing high quality seeds and providing technical details and updates to the farmers results are encouraging,” he said. “Our technique has worked so far. But, to make Valley self sufficient in paddy, the selling of land should be stopped and more land needed to be bring under paddy cultivation.”
Kashmir produces K 28 and IR 8 varieties of paddy with districts of South Kashmir producing the maximum yield. Of late, farmers are selling the entire paddy field around the national highway to the real estate dealers as it fetches good money. Even the farmers are utlising saffron and paddy land for business purposes and construction of houses. Earlier right on the national highway from both sides there were vast paddy fields but now there are shopping malls, shops, restaurants etc.
Though, J-K government has put a blanket ban on selling the paddy fields. But, official decree has failed to reflect on the ground.
Abdul Majid a farmer in Pampore said that south Kashmir is fast losing its paddy fields. ‘’Why only south Kashmir, even in all rural areas the paddy fields are shrinking.’’ He, however, said that farmers are not selling their paddy land but are converting it into orchards for high revenue.
A senior Agriculture officer Daljeet Singh said that department is distributing new latest varieties of seeds and it had a good yield on ground.