Srinagar, Jan 8: Inaam Rashid Mir, a research scholar from South Kashmir’s Kulgam district has started a unique initiative ‘The Garden Guardians’ through which he is guiding farmers about scientific apple and vegetable farming across the valley.
A resident of Khandipora area of Kulgam, the research scholar of SKUAST-Kashmir founded the digital horticulture initiative in March 2018.
He started to target the problems faced by Kashmiri farmers, especially the apple growers and has gained popularity in the valley.
He started the initiative during his BSC Horticulture at SKUAST-K. “During my studies, I felt the need in our farming community for real-time guidance about judicial and scientific apple farming,” the 26-year-old said.
“Being son of a farmer, since childhood, I have witnessed apple cultivation at home. My father used to take me to our apple orchards during my childhood and demonstrate how grafting is done,” he said.
The experiences at home with different activities instilled a fascinating curiosity in him regarding apple cultivation.
“I began to learn all basic cultivation practices like pruning, hoeing, grafting, spraying, grading and even packaging under the guidance of my father,” he said.
Inaam, who has also done MBA in horticulture business management at SKUAST-K, said his entry into the agriculture university moulded his passion into the profession.
“I learnt about all basic cultivation and plant protection practices in our horticulture field, with a special inclination towards apple farming,” he said.
The youth is guiding farmers about disease management, nutrition management, orchard layout and designing, variety and root stock selection, pest management, genuine planting material procurement, spray selection with recommended dosages, selection of pesticides, nutrient sprays, fertilizers etc.
“I keep guiding farmers and orchidists on pre-harvest and post-harvest issues like sprays, fertilizers, fungicides, deficiencies in apple plants like nutrition,” he said.
Inaam has wide outreach in the valley and currently operates in 10 districts of Kashmir and has over 20,000 growers seeking guidance from him. He doesn’t charge anything from farmers except for orchard visits.
He also advises farmers specifically on need-based and topography-based prescriptions. Inaam has been holding district-wise monthly awareness camps and training programs. He has also conducted live sessions and interactions with local growers both online and offline. He uses social platforms like Facebook and YouTube to reach out to farmers.
“I feel happy when growers give me blessings and prayers. Seeing their love filled with messages, my soul finds solace and my life finds purpose,” he said.
‘’It’s overwhelming to see apple growers of my motherland adapting my advisory and witnessing a productive reformation in their orchards. This is what I dreamt of. This is what I live for,” he said.
“I have got a strong emotional connection with the farming community and that’s why I am able to empathize with their problems wholeheartedly,” Inaam said.
“My aim is to make orchards productive and it serves as a one-stop solution to all the problems faced by apple growers of my valley. I have earned unlimited respect in this profession,” he said.