Govt failed to alleviate sufferings of farmers, revive agrarian economy: NC

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SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Saturday said J&K government has failed to alleviate the sufferings of farmers and revive the agrarian economy undergoing distress due to post august measures, subsequent weather vagaries and Covid-19 induced lockdown.

The present agrarian crisis is deep-rooted and widespread due to the accumulation of distress over the last four years or so, Party’s Members of Parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi said while expressing concern over the dismal state of agriculture and its allied activities in Kashmir.  They said 2014 floods, the tumultuous circumstances of 2016, post-August clampdown, weather vagaries, and successive COVID-19 induced lockdown are the reasons why Kashmir’s agriculture sector now finds itself in unprecedented crisis.

“Far from coming to the rescue of farmers, the J&K administration has added to the woes of farmers. What justifies to be called as a brazen, dimwitted move, the government ordered the closure of plant protection stores, Sub-sale centers/seasonal seed outlets at different locations across the Kashmir division,” they said.

“The imprudent measure has caused great inconvenience to farmers who used to purchase agricultural implements, fertilizers, seeds and other farming merchandise under these designated sale centers.  The idea of having such sale centers in villages and far-flung towns was necessitated by the arduous topography of Kashmir.  Having such sale centers in villages saved money and precious time of farmers, who otherwise had to flock to towns or Srinagar city to purchase all the merchandise. They have had a chilling effect on ongoing agricultural activities because people weren’t o able to throng to cities and towns to buy agricultural requirements because of COVID-19. The measure reveals how naïve and nonchalant the incumbent government is about the existent predicaments of people, particularly farmers. Contrarily, the Government should have lent more support to farmers by providing more facilities at such sale centers, unexpectedly it chose otherwise.  Such measures speak volumes. Destroying the rural economy of Kashmir seems to be next on the to-do-list of government after chopping off J&k’s identity,” they added.

They said that there has been no headway in providing succor to debt ridden farmers as well. “Ideally the interest of KCC loan should have been waived off keeping in view the impoverishment of farmers due to vagaries of weather resulting in crop destruction, and helplessness of the farmers to transport their produce to national Mandis on the account of post august clamp down and subsequent COVID-19 crises. If farmers are the backbone of the economy, then the present government has taken upon itself to break it down,” they observed.

The ambitious saffron mission plan launched in 2010 by the then government in liaison with the then Omar Abdullah Government has also been trashed by the successive government since 2015, the Members of Parliament said while expressing dismay over the failure of  incumbent government to alleviate the sufferings of saffron cultivators. “Saffron is the major cash crop of the Kashmir division; it brings huge remittances back home.  Absence of irrigation and altering patterns of rains have affected the cultivation activity.   What good work was done in this regard was done until early 2014, since then the administration has not moved a stone on ground. The pipes lay on the ground but bereft of any water.  Unfortunately the scarcity of irrigation water, if it persists, will impede desertification in the otherwise fertile belt that has been producing best quality saffron,” they said.

The members of Parliament asked the J&k government to stop serving catchwords and assurances as recompose to farmers and deliver on ground. “On the contrary the government should come up with a comprehensive package for farmers, horticulturalists and others associated with allied activities of farming. Need of the hour also calls for infusing more liquidity into rural economy, giving loans, waving off impending ones particularly KCC loans will go a long way in helping farmers stand on their feet again. A comprehensive economic package and a decadal development plan espousing investing in cold storages, rural infrastructure, farmer welfare, crop and livestock insurance is what is required to help the farmers rise on their feet again,” they said.

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