Kashmir’s floriculture sector breathing for revival
Govt approves new project to revive, boost floriculture: Atal Dulloo
Post by Syeda Rafiyah on Saturday, January 28, 2023
Srinagar, Jan 27: Over the past four years floriculture sector in Kashmir has taken an ugly turn as many farmers are leaving the fields to earn their livelihood in other sectors.
In 2006, Rubeena Tabasum, from Yarikalaan area of Chadoora in Budgam took flower business as a challenge. However, due to Covid-19 lockdown in 2019 and 2020 her business got affected to great extent.
“Both years affected the floriculture sector badly in Kashmir. We have been facing a difficult situation over the past few years. Even some famers had to windup their businesses,” she said.
She said flower is perishable item and it needs to be transported and sold within a given time. “When any such situations happen we are the first to suffer the losses,” she said.
Over the years, many farmers from different parts of Kashmir had to wind up their businesses as they could not survive on it in the later years due to losses and low returns.
One among them is Asif Iqbal Bhat, from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district who started floriculture business in 2017 but, he had to wind it up due to Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, that affected the unorganized sector.
“In 2017, I started with three greenhouses. However, lockdowns in 2019 and 2020 affected my floriculture farming,” he said, adding ”the department has not been serious about the floriculture sector although they are opening new units.”
Bhat who has now shifted to vegetable farming, said the valley’s floriculture farmers face market issues. “The local market is limited. We could not send the produce to Delhi since it has less shelf life it gets damaged during transportation.”
Muhammd Shafi Bhat, another floriculture farmer from Kaloosa, Bandipora said he ventured into floriculture business in 2016 with great enthusiasm but now he has lost interest in it due to marketing issues.
“We have been facing marketing issues due to which farmers can’t grow their business. There is market in Jammu but we do not have such a market here,” he said.
He added, “We had already requested the floriculture department to help us in marketing but they do not want to take the responsibility. They told us to do the marketing on our own which is impossible,” he said.
Zakir Qadri, another floriculture farmer from Anantnag said the sector got affected after the demonetization.
He said that there were many farmers who had to lay off the workers as they faced financial constraints. The sector is breathing for revival.
He said over the past three years they have been knocking the doors of the Floriculture Department for issuing polycarbonate houses, a demand that he said has been rejected.
Dr Qazi Altaf Hussain, Senior Scientist, Division of Floriculture, SKUAST-K also agreed that Covid-19 affected the floriculture sector and added that it is on decline in the valley.
“Before Covid-19 there were some 8000 registered growers and it has decreased to 1000 active growers now. The growers had to face losses. When there is no market how could they grow the flowers,” he said.
Qazi also said that floriculture has good entrepreneurship scope and farmers can grow saplings in winter months in poly houses and can earn their livelihood.
However, Financial Commissioner, Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo said the government has approved a new project, which is part of 29 projects that have been approved by the J&K administration, that would revive and boost the floriculture.
“The implementation of the project is expected to bring a major change in the floriculture sector and provide a significant boost. This will not only benefit the farmers but also contribute to the overall economic development of the region,” he said.