Srinagar, Aug: The cultivation of aromatic rice—Mushk Budij in Kashmir is all set to get expanded as the department of agriculture is reviving more than 150 hectares of land. Besides, it is also looking to cultivate in other possible areas.
Known for its rich climate, topography and soil, the legacy of cultivating aromatic rice—Mushk Budij in Model Village Sagam has given resilience, ensured livelihood and adequate nutrition for millennia to local food communities.
Mushk Budij is short-bold aromatic rice mostly cultivated in higher reaches Kokernag and belt of Anantnag district in Kashmir valley.
One of the locals in Sagam area, Aijaz Ahmad said, “Mushk Budij is mainly cultivated in Sagam belt of Kokernag area.”
The area is 20 Kilometers away from Anantnag district.
Ahmad said that almost all of the area in Sagam is dealing directly or indirectly with Mushk Budij.
He said, “One ton of Mushk Budij costs nearly Rs 18000-19000, however, the rate of the product varies annually. On an average, the price remains in between 16000-17000.”
“The farmers in Sagam area harvest 1-1.5 tons of Mushk Budij for one Kanal of land and almost 2000 households of Sagam area are cultivating it and the village is the main source to cultivate Mushk Budij,” Ahmad said.
The adjacent villages like Nagam, Buchou, Dawnith and Angalgund also cultivate it in a small quantity.
Ahmad further said that the Mushk Budij was at the verge of extinction, but the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Agriculture (SKUAST) played an important role in reviving the dying culture of cultivating Mushk Budij in different areas.
The agriculture minister of the previous regime Ghulam Nabi Hanjura had declared Sagam as a Model Village for Mushk Budij.
Another local said that some decades back, Mushk Budij was being widely used in marriage ceremonies in Kashmir but since the production has reduced, the price of the aromatic rice has increased a lot.
“Now, all of the people can’t afford to cook in marriage ceremonies. Nowadays, it is mostly being used in marriages by the upper class families,” he said.
He also said that decades back it was a culture of Kashmir to cook Mushk Budij in marriage ceremonies to please the relatives.
Director Agriculture, Chowdhary Iqbal said, “Mushk Budij needs a feasible altitude, land and climate. These components play an important role in cultivating the crop.”
He said that the climate, land and attitude in district Anantnag is perfect to cultivate Mushk Budij. Although the cultivation land in the Sagan has reduced, we are trying to revive it.
Iqbal said, “In the Sagam area, the cultivation is still being cultivated at 250-300 hectares of land. Our focus is to get it cultivated for more than 500 hectares of land.”
The agriculture director also said that the department has already started the process and very soon, it will have more than 500 hectares of land to cultivate Mushk Budij.
“If we shift the cultivation of Mushk Budij to some area, there are many possibilities of having the disease in the crop,” he said.
Iqbal said, “Besides, we are also looking to get it cultivated in all those areas which have a similar altitude, land and climate like Anantnag.”
He further said that the SKUAST-K has played an important role in reviving the Mushk Budij.
“The research and experiments on Mushk Budij done by the SKUAST-K is commendable. SKUAST-K is also looking for new areas where the climate and other regions like higher ups of Anantnag to cultivate Mushk Budij,” Iqbal said.