J&K loses 30,000 hectares of paddy land in a decade

SRINAGAR, OCT 31: Over the past decade, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed the transformation of paddy fields into urban developments, and a transition by farmers to horticulture, leading to the depletion of 30,000 hectares of paddy land.
Figures from the Agriculture Department Kashmir reveal that from 1,62,309 hectares in 2012-2013, the area under paddy cultivation has decreased to 1,34,067 hectares indicating around 30,000. One hectare is equal to approximately 20 kanals of land.
The construction of houses on paddy land is increasingly prevalent in both rural villages and towns. This trend is not limited to commercial development; people are also shifting towards horticultural activities.
The conversion from agriculture to horticulture has one simple reason: fruits bring more money to farmers than rice.
A senior official of the Horticulture Department Kashmir said horticulture gives far better returns to farmers than agriculture.
“There are many government-sponsored schemes under which farmers can avail benefits to grow fruits on their land and increase the production,” he added.
The farmers, who had known the land for decades, noticed the slow but steady decline in the land area devoted to paddy cultivation. They understand the deep cultural and economic significance of paddy in their lives.
Ghulam Rasool, a 50-year-old farmer from Anantnag would grow paddy on 10 kanals of land earning Rs 20,000 annually.
However, for the last many years, he has been cultivating apples on this same land which fetches him Rs 3 lakh annually. “We have a family of six people and all are dependent on it. Farmers are switching from paddy to horticulture as it gives good returns,” he said.
Mohamad Abbas Wani, 50, and his family have been associated with fruit production for 30 years.
“We grow fruits on 30 kanals of land. We have a family of 20 people and all are dependent on the earnings of apple produce. Besides, 20 people are also working with us during the cultivation season. We make a good earning out of it and fetch us Rs 4 lakh profit annually,” he added.

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