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, June 25, 2010

Potato Chips From Kashmir?

If there are French fries, why not Kashmiri chips?

J&K sees Huge Potential for Potato Farming

Jammu and Kashmir has a huge potential for becoming the production hub of disease free and quality potatoes,the Minister for Agriculture G H Mir has said.

Mir, who was speaking at a two-day seminar on "Potato development in Jammu" at Sanasar yesterday, said the availability of large land area and the favourable climate boded well for potato seed tubers' crop in the state.

The state has maximum land area under 5000-8000 feet altitude, considered appropriate for potato cultivation.

G H Mir noted farming of potato seed tubers could create new employment opportunities and that 'hill-station' land holders needed to introduce modern agriculture technology to make the state self-sufficient.

The minister said the government will make maximum funds available for farmers and create seed villages, which will provide all modern technical inputs to the farmers to boost the potato harvest.

He also called for supply of disease free seed tubers and

Dissemination of scientific information to the farmers to ensure high quality crop yield.

Besides, there was also the need to impart the necessary training to the field staff and farmers, as well as expansion of food production area across the state, the minister said.

Mir said the potato crop could be processed into chips, which thanks to Kashmir's big tourism industry, could help revive the rural economy.

The Minister of state for agriculture, Javid Ahmed Dar said his ministry would set targets for commercial potato cultivation and potato seed production, as the state had tremendous scope for growing potato seed tubers.

Dar said the government would take cue from neigbouring states like Punjab where the farmers had revolutionised the sector by adopting commercialisation.

The Minister said that the potato crop would now be insured under National Agriculture Insurance Scheme with nominal premium rate to safeguard farmers from losses due to natural calamities.

Dar also called for establishing cooperative societies of potato seed growers on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh to promote and market the crop.

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