Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Floriculture in Kashmir Needs More Than Open Access to Match Holland

Rhetoric aside, floriculture has the potential of big business in Kashmir but it needs foreign investment and technology

Valley Florists seek lucrative markets across borders

Baba Umar (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: With commercial floriculture becoming a blossoming business option for the Valley entrepreneurs, the demand for seeking high selling markets other than New Delhi is gaining momentum. For the Jammu and Kashmir Flowers Growers Association (JKFGA) is demanding reopening of the traditional Srinagar-Muzafarabad road immediately.“If the government wishes the State to excel in the commercial floriculture, then they need to erase all boundaries that are impeding our business,” JKFGA, President Tajendra Singh told Rising Kashmir on Friday.
Singh said that the State has full potential in overtaking the Holland—that holds 93 percent of the world commercial floral business.“We have technology and the units across the State are producing good harvest—so it becomes essential to have diverse markets to sell your products,” Singh said.

The demand has come at a time when the economic blockade on the valley spelt doom on the business fraternity of the valley, pushing people to think for alternatives and much-sought demand.

JKFGA, President said that saffron bulbs, flower bulbs, and planting material is in great demand across Pakistan and all central Asian countries and Kashmir can fill that demand.“Why can’t we make Kashmir a commercial flower hub to satisfy markets across central Asia instead of Dubai,” Singh further said.

The local entrepreneurs are making huge inroads in the flower markets of New Delhi; however, with the commercial flowers business growing, and after some instances of products being vandalized on the Srinagar-Jammu highway by the unruly mob, the need for other markets is being felt by the florist fraternity.“I was traveling with my goods when at Chenani; I was stopped by the Hindu mob. I was told to sell my products at Rawalpindi,” said Zakir Ahmad, who runs a unit at North Kashmir’s Islamabad.The young entrepreneur who had just started the enterprise was told to take his goods by foot to Delhi markets.“But fortunately a lorry helped me to ferry my merchandise to Delhi,” he said. However, it needed a cold storage for his flowers that were no longer fresh and he had to suffer heavy losses on his yearly produce. Zakir along with other 12 entrepreneurs would always fly to Delhi to sell their merchandise, but during curfew days they had to travel by road which would witness vandalizing and brutal actions by the mob there in Jammu. Zakir also wished to have different trade routes for the Kashmir fresh flowers owing to growing potential in this sector.“Our climate, soil, and geography resembles with that of Holland, so if they can produce world’s most of the commercial flowers why can’t Kashmir,” he said.

Meanwhile, JKFGA, President said that valley entrepreneurs had to witness a slump in this business due to crisis in Kashmir and the estimation of losses is being done by the government.“Ours is a delicate commodity. So it needs to be ferried to markets before flowers are cut from the plant. It was a peak season for selling, but the situation in the valley was quite detrimental for the flower growers there,” Tajendra Singh said.According to figures available, there are some 200-300 small flower growers in the state, while as there are 35 high technology floriculture units in J&K of which valley has 12 such units.

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