WAKE UP CALL
First of all we must know that Word Kashmir believed to have derived from Sanskrit language “kashmira” which people understand as valley of waters where as Ladakh comprises of two words “La” denotes passes where as “Dhak” means numerous and concludes the place name as land of high passes. The bordering areas surrounded by Himalayas are important places in India which has average height around 1800 to 2500 meters above mean sea level. These Himalayan regions have diversification in the physiographic features, agro-climatic variation involving cold arid, temperate and intermediate zones. Average size of holding is small 0.545 ha/holding as compared to 1.66 ha at the national level with more than 93% of owners of these farm holdings subsisting on agriculture and allied activities. Livelihood of the majority revolves around the agriculture and allied sectors and these sectors contribute nearly 50 per cent to GSDP.
In northwest India Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has considerable share of Scheduled Tribes amounting to 11.9 percent of the total population .In Kashmir Scheduled Tribes Population is 464,306 lakhs out of total population where as in Ladakh region 218,193 lakhs out of total population of 274,289. The Work Participation Rate of the ST population is 43.9 per cent and participation rate of males (50.9 per cent), females (36.1 per cent) and 57.4 per cent are main workers. As far as distribution of the ST’S is concerned 95.3 per cent of them reside in villages. From educational point of view, 34.9 per cent of tribal literates are without any educational level and primary level literates are around 26.2 per cent where as percentage of literates up to middle level is 22.1 per cent. Scenario of literacy level includes 14.7 per cent matric/secondary/higher secondary, 2 per cent are graduates and technical holders form negligible percentage (0.1).
Kashmir has one fourth of the area compared to Ladakh but most of the parts of Ladakh are barren and concept of go green cum landscaping is going on for bringing maximum area under vegetation. Tourist flow in Ladakh has increased from last decade and landscape gardening has taken a special attention. The plants are being imported either from HP and little quantity from Kashmir.
Ladakh, the cold arid region, is spread over an area of 59100 square kilometers. The cultivated area is less than 1% of its geographical expanse. Climatically, the region is characterized by severe, prolonged winter and mild summer in major parts of the region, which facilitates only mono-cropping. The region receives very limited precipitation (80-140 cm) annually. There is currently a shift towards cultivating low volume high value cash crops. There is an immediate need to support for efficient means of livelihood earnings, besides efficiently using water and other resources for both vertical and horizontal expansion.
Though Kashmir and Ladakh has a long association with flora, but it has restricted up to traditional way. People are ready to go for such options in farming which can enhance their economic conditions. There is diversity in farming options and selection of a particular option is always a challenge. Schedule tribe empowerment is a burning issue as far as economic upliftment is concerned. There is a huge population involved in different types of farming activities and market is always a challenge. With growing economic issues, national and international competition in marketing of products, unemployed ST’s face a challenge in livelihood security. ST residing in Ladakh and Kashmir divisions of J&K face socio economic problems and need of the hour is to empower them through niche farming. For this purpose bioresource management is one of the options which can ensure best returns with assured market.
ST’s live in areas with unique floral diversity which can be explored from commercial point of view. High way and forest plantation projects has huge investment of these plants woth crores of rupees annually and are procured from different places. Pines, Cedrus, Abies, Willows, Wild Shrubs etc are in huge demand. ST’s are familiar with the floral wealth and its propagation and the only step which can help them to enter in this sound business is up scaling of skill, awareness regarding Govt. schemes for infrastructure and exposure to market. Besides this sub alpine and Alpine flora like Fritilaria, Gentiana, Anemones, Iris, Bergenia, Astiagalus, Aconites, Meconopsis, Allium, Ranunculus, Lupins, Inula, Arnebia, Digitalis, Achillea, Barberris, Atropa, Ermerus, Phytolacca, Aquilegia, Skimmia, Betula, Taxus, Juniperus, Rhododendron, Parriofropsis, Sea Beck Thorn, Kala Zeera, Discorea, Podophylum, Saussurea, Rehum etc have a great scope of commercialization from ornamental and medicinal utility point of view and this will help in commercialization and sustainable entrepreneurship development.
But Lack of scientific technical know how about propagation techniques of plants, cultivation and post harvest handling are the main stumbling aspects. Thus for commercialization some important considerations need to be worked out including developing self help groups of ST’s capacity building of these self help groups through demonstrations on multiplication of disease/ virus free planting material and imparting a technical knowledge will open job opportunities of slim community. Once this activity is converted into an organized business, it will ensure better returns and things will change for ST population in terms of economic upliftment. There is a need to spread this awareness/message among ST farming community to diversify their activities. Facilitation of support, guidance, training on scientific lines involving scientist, farmers and entrepreneurs on a common platform is prerequisite when an organization needs to take on a new technology or skill and manage its adoption.
(1) As majority of the scheduled tribe population is involved in agriculture and allied sectors, there is a great scope of economic upilftment within small land holdings from commercial bioresource activities which ensures net profit of Rs 25000 to 50000 from 500m2 area.
(2) Modalities for leasing of land around forests for propagation, conservation and commercialization to ST’S is very important step which has to be taken by government.
(3) Quality plant material as well as skilled workers are in great demand but availability is negligible.
(4) ST‘s areas have a potential but up scaling of skill is prerequisite.
(5) Capacity building & formation of registered society & FPO’s of skilled ST’S belonging to such ethnic community is need of hour so that recognition of such community is ensured and simultaneously it will help in economic upliftment from a small land holding.
(6) To achieve goal of socio-economic upliftment, human resource development, up scaling skill, training cum demonstration center or competency centre is prerequisite and will facilitates support, guidance, training on scientific lines involving scientist, farmers and entrepreneurs on a common platform.
Objectives to be targeted
• Formation of farmer produce organization cum self help groups of startups of small holding scheduled tribe farmers. The establishment of demonstration cum training centers in each district will provide hands on technological training and know- how.
• Hands-on practical experience, demonstrations and skill development training for propagation, production and post harvest management.
• Capacity building of start-up self help groups with an aim to conduct field exercises and support through up scaling of skill.
• Facilities for new trade and technology programs for long term assured returns.
• Linkage of self-help groups with marketing chain at ut, state and national level.
• Training, demonstration and transfer of technology to skilled and non-skilled people and entrepreneurs.
• Disseminating a message through demonstration units on profitability of trade within a small area.
· Shift in farming practices for good economic returns.
• Registering society and self help group & linkage with Govt. Organizations like NABARD,NHB, SFAC ETC.
• Infrastructure development to be taken up with the help of schemes.
(Dr Nasir Hamid Masoodi, Faculty Division of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture, SKUAST K Shalimar Srinagar J&K)