Land conversion, climate change threatening J&K’s agriculture sector: Govt report

Srinagar, Nov 7: The latest comprehensive government report has revealed that land conversion, dwindling natural resources, and climate change are posing a significant threat to the agriculture sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

The report, which includes a SWOT analysis of the sector, sheds light on various strengths and weaknesses while identifying key opportunities for the region’s agricultural development.

The government’s SWOT analysis highlights several critical weaknesses in the agriculture sector, including marginal and fragmented land holdings, low levels of mechanisation, and poor resource use efficiency.

The report points out the existence of non-existent and underdeveloped value chains, uncertain and unstable markets, and the detrimental impact of unplanned and irrational land use.

One of the key strengths of the department, according to the report, is its diverse natural capital.

“The region is blessed with a comparative advantage for niche crops and has supportive infrastructure in place,” the report reads.

The government notes that the department benefits from an educated human resource and easily scalable Research and Development (R&D) and extension services.

However, the government report underscores the pressing issue of dwindling and degrading natural resources, particularly concerning arable land.

“The diversion of arable land for non-agricultural purposes, increasing biotic and abiotic stresses, and the effects of climate change all contribute to the sector’s vulnerability,” the report reads.

However, the SWOT analysis identified various opportunities within the agriculture sector.

It suggests the potential for mobilising farmers through various groups like Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Community Interest Groups (CIGs), Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs), and Village Producer Organisations (VPOs).

The report emphasises the scope for responsive and progressive farming communities with a comparative advantage in several agri-commodities. The report also highlights untapped potential in processing, value chains, and secondary agriculture.

“There is a unique opportunity for off-season agriculture and a brand value in export markets due to the pristine production environment,” the government report reads while acknowledging these opportunities as key drivers for growth and development within the agriculture sector.

Based on the SWOT analysis and the objectives of the holistic agricultural development policy, the government has laid out strategic areas of intervention in multiple phases.

These include strengthening the seed system with high-quality genetic material across various sectors like crops, horticulture, sericulture, livestock, poultry, and fish.

The department’s goals encompass promoting unique and niche crops in medicinal and aromatic segments, including apple, saffron, walnut, almond, trout, wool, and basmati.

Furthermore, they aim to develop and promote agri-value chains, post-harvest management, agri-logistics, processing, market infrastructure, and a conducive market ecosystem.

The department’s overarching objective is to secure livelihoods by enhancing jobs and incomes through sustainable intensification, diversification, integrated farming, and livelihood systems.

Simultaneously, it aims to support the ecosystem by adopting programmes that enhance supporting ecosystem services and natural capital.

These programmes include the promotion of apiculture for pollination management, reducing chemical use, organic farming, strengthening rain-fed ecosystems, soil health management, and biodiversity conservation.

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