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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kashmir's Apple Cart is Stuck!

Three related stories on good news-bad news related to Kashmir's apple industry

Kashmir’s apple clock struck

Rashid Paul (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Apple production in the State, which involves around 25 lakh people, has shown serious symptoms of stagnation for past four years, experts quoting latest figures said Tuesday.

The yield per hectare in the State is stuck at 11 metric tones per annum for the past four years while in countries with similar climatic conditions, production has outreached 46 metric tones.

The yield per hectare is not showing any growth over the past four years, said Prof F A Banday, Head Division of Pomology at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir.

Since many years, the yield per hectare is stuck at 11 metric tones per hectare, he told Rising Kashmir.

The yield in Europe, the continent which has a similar climate to Kashmir, has reached an average of 40 metric tones per hectare.

Belgium, a country with an area almost double that of Kashmir valley produces about 46 metric tones per hectare, Denmark 41 metric tones, the Netherlands 40 metric tones and Brazil, a developing economy harvests 38.2 metric tones of apple a season.

Narrow variety base is the chief factor for our low productivity, Banday said. We developed and released Lal Ambri, Akbar and Sonhari which can produce up to 26 metric tones per hectare per annum.

The government agencies responsible for their propagation and distribution among the farmers haven’t done their job fairly forcing us to take up the distribution job as well, he said.

Some 50,000 such plants were given to farmers last year.

To increase the apple production, Banay advises high density plantation on European pattern.

However, Director Horticulture M S Qasba says it was not justifiable to compare Kashmir with Europe. “We don’t have European standard medical facilities. So we should not draw parallels between horticulture production of Europe and Kashmir,” he says. “They have big land holdings. Their horticulture is mechanized. They also have a state-of-art watering facilities.”

Qasba claimed that the department gives 1 to 2 lakh trees to farmers annually besides developing 500 hectares with clonal root stocks.

However, Muhammad Amin, a fruit grower from Shopian said experts and officials had failed the growers.

“Bad inputs like substandard fertilizers, pesticides and non availability of good yield plants is arresting the production,” he said.

Apple production on decline mode in Shopian as Scab returns after 37 years

Ishfaq Mir (Rising Kashmir)

Shopian: This year apple production in Shopian is set to receive a big jolt as Scab disease has attacked more than 20 per cent of the total area under apple cultivation, experts warned on Tuesday.

Venchuria Inequaris , known as Scab in common parlance which appeared first time in 1972 in the Valley orchards had disappeared to a large extent but non-availability of fungicides in the market has favoured its return after 37 years in this apple belt.

Retired chief scientist Dr.G.M Tak while talking to Rising Kashmir warned of severe financial loss to the apple industry due to the scab which has visited Shopain orchards after a long gap of 37 years.

“Basically it is a form of larva which thrives in moist air. Untimely rain and fluctuating temperatures made it to flourish. Only regular use of fungicides could control the disease but they are not available in the market due to continued strike. The crop was already less this year by about 30 per cent,” adding that and the annual decrease will be more now.

The Scab threat has added to the woes of the orchardists’ already facing threats of low yield this year due to untimely rainfall and swindling temperatures. Besides the disappearance of fungicides from the market due to month a half long strike has made it difficult to control the expected loss.

“The strike of one and a half month made it difficult to get the fungicides. Although the Scab had attacked the orchards in mid May but lack of timely spray of fungicides increased the area under threat. We couldn’t get the fungicides since May 30 till date and the disease is making its grip strong,” said Abdul Shakoor Reshi, a fruit dealer and grower.

Non-availability of the original fungicides in the market paved the way for the fake ones which spread the disease further.

“When reliable fungicides were not available, some of the fruit growers used low grade ones which increased the pace of spread of the Scab disease. We are very apprehensive and only Allah can save us,” added another fruit grower Muhammad Shafi.

Chief horticultural officer Shopian G.N. Shah said, “More than 24,000 hactares are under apple cultivation in Shopian, however the yield is set to decline this year as the rains plus temperature played a foul play.”

'Rs 19 Cr to augment facilities at four fruit mandis of North Kashmir'

Srinagar: Minister of State for Horticulture Javed Ahmad Dar in an officers meeting took stock of the pace of works under execution in various fruit mandis of North Kashmir here today.

It was giving in the meeting that in fruit mandi Sopore, Rs. 18 crore project is under execution for providing and augmenting various infrastructure and basic facilities in the mandi, out of which, Rs. 8 crore stand expended. It was further told that to improve the capacity in the mandi two new sheds will be constructed during the current financial year.

The meeting while taking review of the work under execution in fruit mandi Kupwara was told that Rs. 34 lakhs have been earmarked for macadamization while as Rs. 8 lakh stand provided for drinking water facilities.

The meeting while taking stock of the facilities at fruit mandi Handwara and Baramulla was told that Rs. 35 lakh and 25 lakh respectively have been provided for improving various basic facilities at the two mandis. It was further told that an extra shed will be constructed in fruit mandi Baramulla to increase its overall capacity.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister while terming horticulture as a core activity possessing great potential stressed upon the concerned to ensure completion of all under execution schemes on scheduled. He asked officers to explore possibilities for establishing a cold store at every fruit mandi so that supply is managed as per demand.

Besides, Director Horticulture, the meeting was attended by the senior officers of Horticulture, Planning and Marketing.

(Kashmir Times)

1 comment:

muzafar said...

these ministers can only speak but the matter of fact is that the current situation is a gift of our politicians and these so called leaders.they have failed to provide basic faciliies like good fertilizers,quality sprays that too when they are required the most and talking of cold storages is a fairy tale and nothing else.authorities need to come closer to the farmers and for this they have to come out of their cabins.