After August 5, 2019, when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K's special status and divided it into two Union Territories, the government has taken many steps to double the income of farmers across the Himalayan region. Recently the government restructured the Agriculture Production Department for welfare of farmers in J&K with an aim to double the income of farmers, orchardists and people dependent on animal, sheep husbandry and fisheries for their livelihood.
A full-fledged Agriculture Production Department was created by merging three existing line departments - Agriculture Production and Farmers Welfare, Animal, Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries and Horticulture departments.
The intent was clear that the income of the farmers needs to be enhanced as around 70% J&K population is dependent on these sectors. The government has devised a clear cut policy to secure a comprehensive transformation in the livelihood of farmers in J&K by modernizing technological interventions and diversifying support systems available in the agriculture and allied sectors. Farmers, scientists and officers of agriculture and allied sectors, are working beyond production and productivity. They are focusing on value addition, branding, marketing, packaging etc. The latest technology is being coupled with research and new methods are being devised to increase the yield of farmers.
They are selling their products in a professional manner. The Artificial Intelligence and latest innovations in computer sciences are helping farmers in Jammu and Kashmir to predict weather, assess crop and soil health. Clueless farmers turn innovators Just two years ago, a farmer in J&K had no clue about how to use technology for farming. For the past 70-years he relied on the traditional methods and whatever meager facilities that were provided to him by the former regimes at the pretext of increasing his income.
The benefits of most centrally sponsored schemes didn't reach the farmers as the Article 370--temperoray provision of Indian Constitution--acted as the biggest stumbling block. After the scrapping of the so-called "special status" the government has developed an enormous support system for agriculture and allied sectors especially for the Horticulture sector due to which production has increased manifold. The restructuring of the Agriculture and Production Department has brought all the welfare schemes for the farmers under one umbrella in a single department. The decision to merge all the single line departments under one roof has made the process of providing funds and subsidies to the farmers simpler and faster. The aim is clear i.e. to secure a comprehensive transformation in the livelihood of farmers in J&K. Earn high returns through respectable employment.
The initiatives that have been taken during the past two years have promoted agri-entrepreneurship as a means of high return and respectable employment in a big way. In September 2021, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar during his visit to J&K had launched "Plantation Credit Scheme." The credit lending to farmers was extended from other banks also and they were connected with hi-density infrastructure through Agri-Infrastructure funds. The J&K Government is providing 50% capital support up to Rs. 22.15 lac/Ha under a high-density plantation scheme. A common farmer used to find it difficult to arrange another 50% capital due to the high interest rate. The inclusion of HDPS under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund Scheme has made available the credit on interest subvention of 3% per annum for 7 years. The credit guarantee coverage made available under credit guarantee fund trust offers loan upto Rs. 2 crore for micro and small enterprises schemes. Under the PM-KISAN scheme farmers of Jammu and Kashmir have been provided with financial assistance worth crores till date.
The J&K government has worked hard to make sure that no farmer is left out from the ambit of the PM-KISAN scheme and 100% coverage has been ensured. Mechanized farming, subsidies With an aim to promote farm mechanisation and creating self-sufficient villages hundreds of tractors with Rs 2 lakh subsidy, besides power tillers, paddy planters and threshers have been distributed among the farmers across J&K. Better storage facilities have been established to protect the perishable fruits and vegetables. Pesticide laboratories and soil testing labs have been set up in J&K. The government has focused on increasing productivity through intervention of technology, ensuring best price and market support, mitigation of risks and diversification through allied activities. A large number of modern granaries and cold storage facilities have come up in many places across J&K. Modern agriculture equipment has been provided to the local farmers. The custom hiring centres have been set up for assisting small and marginal farmers to easily borrow expensive machinery.
The J&K Government is providing 50 per cent subsidy for starting a fodder plant, for setting up a dairy with 50 cows and starting milk chilling, and processing plants. To increase flow of bank credit to small and marginal farmers the credit disbursal targets of agriculture and allied sectors have been raised. Another sector that the government has focused on is high density plantation, inter-cropping and diversification in agriculture. It has helped in increasing income of growers by four times.
The strenuous efforts put in by the administration have led to the youth showing keen interest in taking up agriculture as a career. Many of them are growing exotic vegetables that are in great demand in cities. Seed banks have been established in J&K and stress is being laid on organic farming. In 'Naya J&K' farmers become priority In 'Naya Jammu and Kashmir' farmers have become a priority as they are being provided with all the possible assistance to live a dignified life. The schemes available for them have been brought under a single window system and all the possible support is being extended to them. For seven decades politicians used them as their vote banks. In return their leaders couldn't do much for them. Their promises were more about offering lip-service and nothing more.
The farming community in J&K prior to August 5, 2019, was kept deprived of the benefits that were meant for it. The agriculture and allied sectors in Kashmir have been restructured and reformed. The change is visible as the farmers are getting the best price for their yield. The ones who had lost interest in farming are cultivating their fields with renewed strength. Jammu and Kashmir has changed and the change is irreversible.