Food shortage due to a host of factors including the decline in agriculture production is one of the major concerns shared by states and governments all over the world. At present, in many places the displacement of the people following acute shortage of food and other essentials has developed into severe crises with the support system backed by some international humanitarian bodies being the only hope for millions of people. In our state, the decline in agriculture production has been flagged as a concern years ago. While it was believed that the production of paddy and wheat hasn’t changed or increased over the years, but against the growing population this has actually been read as rapid decline. Less than a decade ago, when the demand for the crops was pegged at 15 lakh tonnes, the state was only producing a little over 9 lakh tonnes. Ten years later the production against the demand hasn’t changed much despite some reports suggesting that there has been an increase in the production of crops like rice. Conversion of agriculture lands into residential colonies and conversion of crop lands into orchards are said to pose a far greater risk than other identified factors. Although irrigation infrastructure has improved over the years, it is still mostly dependent on the snow-fed streams and canals. There have not been substantial gains made following the use of high yielding seed varieties and mixed crop system is still unpopular among the agriculturists. Identified as the high productivity group, the four districts Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama and Anantnag are losing land to the unchecked urbanization and increased commercial activities. Farmers are switching over to cash crops that fetch better returns and conversion of wet paddy land is receiving increased attention from peasantry in Kashmir. One can easily observe the masses of land that are being developed as orchards in fruit belts of North and South of Kashmir as apple of late has turned into a much better crop when in comes to investment-return tradeoff. True this makes sense in terms of earnings from the land to growers, but what has spurred this trend is the scarcity of water for irrigating the land.
According to a survey carried out in the past about 263246 hectares of land is cultivated for rice, 278301 for wheat and 302445 for maize and rice produced from this land amounts to 562000 tonnes that is not able to suffice for four months. So there is a gap of eight months which is met from exports from neighboring states like Punjab and Haryana. Shortage of productive land in J&K will have a direct effect on food grain supply in the future. What ever the reasons, policy needs to be framed towards having self sufficiency of food production in the State.