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, November 26, 2010

National Saffron Mission (NSM)

Sajad reports on the ailing saffron industry

(Mr. Sajad Kralyari, 28, was born in Kralyar, Srinagar. He had his early schooling at the General Public Mission (GPM) School, and his higher secondary education from the Government High School. He completed his B.Sc. from the Gandhi Memorial College, Rainawari, Srinagar, and Master's degree in journalism from the Media Educational Research Centre (MERC), University of Kashmir in 2008. He subsequently did a brief stint in New Delhi before returning as a correspondent for the Rising Kashmir, working on business and economy related stories.)

Agriculture Department Awaits NSM Take Off

National Saffron Mission (NSM) may be aiming to revive the ailing saffron sector, but growers allege that it is the “nexus” between administration and the land brokers which thrstens the very survival of the colourful spice.

There has been illegal construction on at least 1500 kanals of saffron land over the past 20 years. This has impacted the saffron productivity, the growers alleged while interacting with the media persons at Pampore.

The interactive meet with the growers and the agriculture department was organized by Press Information Bearu Srinagar Tuesday.

The official production figures show that saffron area has gone down from about 5707 hectares to just 3785 hectares and the productivity has gown down 3.13 kg/ha to 2.50 kg/ha in the last few years.

“Though, the construction on saffron land is prohibited under land revenue act section 133 (a) (c) but this act is being violated by the government administration itself as they are in league with the land brokers,” said another grower, Bashir Ahmad Malik.

“We have taken up this matter with the higher authorities and filed a writ petition with the high court but to no avail,” said Malik who is also an advocate.

The top officials from the agriculture department also second the villagers’ allegation that illegal construction has shrunk the saffron cultivable land.

“There is a deep nexus between the land brokers and the government administration who are allowing the construction to come up at saffron land. The saffron cultivable land has considerably reduced due to these illegal constructions,” said one of the officials from the agriculture department.

“We are helpless and can do nothing to stop these illegal constructions. We have to give guidelines to the farmers for improving their production and productivity,” said the official.

Notably, the Central government has approved a plan of Rs 371.18 crore under National Saffron Mission Programme for four years which includes Rs 286.06 crore as government of India’s share and Rs 85.12 crore as farmers share for the revival of saffron production in Jammu and Kashmir.

Under the 4-year saffron mission, the government of India would bore 128 tube wells. Also 3715 sprinkler sets with distribution system shall be made available to the farmers with 50% subsidy over an estimated cost of Rs 5000 per set, whereas 82 sets shall be installed at government farms with 100% project share.

The detailed project report for saffron mission show that each tube well would cater to the needs for irrigating 30 hectares of saffron area.

However, efforts shall be made to create permanent water source for saffron areas adjacent to river Jehlum near Patal and Lathipora by strengthening present Lathipora lift irrigation scheme.
“The research shows that the lack of irrigation facilities, poor techniques adopted by the growers and lack of post harvest management has reduced in low productivity and poor quality. The saffron mission will go a long way in helping farmers enhance quality and productivity of Saffron,” said Seed Pathologist Farooq Ahamd Mandoo who was also present in the interactive meet with the media persons.

The saffron mission also seeks to develop appropriate systems for organized marketing, quality-based pricing of saffron and for formulating direct transactions between growers, traders, exporters and industrial agencies.

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