The integrated management of natural resources – water, agriculture and energy are required for food security. India has paradoxical situations of water rich and land scarce regions like in the North, land rich and water scarce situations like in the South. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was food surplus till 1990-91 which transformed to a food deficit state by the year 2000. This is contrary to the entire country which turned out to be food surplus. The reasons for this were many. Foremost among them is the changing land use pattern and the stagnation in agricultural production in J&K. About 7.5 lakh tonnes of food grain are being imported every year by J&K to bridge the gap between production and consumption of food grains.
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Expansion of agricultural production not possible
The scope for expansion of agricultural production is restricted more strikingly than in many other states of the country. The physiographic features and climatic conditions also do not favour the expansion of agricultural production. Though there is a lot of scope for increasing productivity. Food crops are raised only one season for a limited time. Further, the land is increasingly used for expansion of urban areas population which is increasing and conversion of land for other purposes is very significant. Many research studies show the trend of considerable chunk of land getting converted for horticultural crops in Kashmir. The investments for needed ground water exploitation are lacking and consistently the imports of food grains are on the increase. For example, in 1964-65 the total production of food grains is 982.7 hundred tonnes against the deficit of 373.73 hundred tonnes of total requirement. In 2016-17 the food production came down from the previous year by over 1000 tonnes to 1618.9 tonnes for the requirement of 2374.31 tones interestingly the population increased, according to studies from 35,60,976 in 1964-65 to 1,38,84,866 in 2016-17. It is estimated that 90% of the total food grain production consists of crops, namely paddy, wheat and maize. The remaining 10% of production goes to cereals and pulses.
PDS is almost universal
Food security was provided to the people living below the poverty line (BPL) by distributing food grains at subsidised rates as is the case with other states in the country. Though, this programme was common to the entire country, it was modified as a targeted programme to provide food security for those who are highly vulnerable. In J&K the PDS is proposed to cover 95% population almost becoming universal. Out of 125 Lakh population 119 lakh are brought under PDF coverage.
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There were three divisions in J&K and with 2019 enactment the union territory of J&K has two divisions namely, Jammu and Kashmir. Studies show that many systemic errors are present within the system due to which people are not obtaining the full entitlements under PDS. Research is scanty probing into the failures of PDS and working of PDS in J&K vis-a-vis the internal agricultural production. Most of government efforts are on track Insurgency of Pakistan funded extremists and maintaining law and order. Added to this is convincing the local population on the advantages of integration of the J & K with the rest of the county. Fears of outsiders usurping the rights of locals have become an issue to be carefully handled. As some studies suggest the bifurcation and formation of territories into new administrative entities in the recent past in the country showed dissatisfaction among people. This was mainly due to lack of adequate preparation and planning.
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Leaving out the political, administrative aspects, there is need to examine the issues of land use planning in a balanced manner, water and land utilisation for improving food security and enhancing the purchasing power of the people. Some more bold decisions are needed not only for economic development of J & K but also improving the psyche of people and politicians.