Agriculture in Kashmir

February 23, 2011

Agriculture of Ladakh has enabled the land to bear a self sufficient agrarian economy. Located at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau and tucked north of the Himalaya between Tibet and Kashmir, the agriculture of Ladakh is inseparable from the social and bouldery structure of the villages. The climate of Ladakh is basically harsh because of the long living winter that is devoid of rainfall. As a result the land of Ladakh is treeless and seemingly barren, with crazily canted rocky slopes. The fields in Ladakh territory are mostly terraced, built with elegant stone walls, and most skillfully arranged. The fields that are prepared for agriculture are mostly miniature lands and are not suitable for broad scale agriculture.

Commercial crops like mushroom,honey,flouriculture,dairy farming  poultry and sheep for meat production  have an tremendous potential for the development.The aquatic and forest vegetable along with naturally growm medicinal bushes and herbs have a trememdous market and economic viability.The bee keeping as polinizers and even around dal ,wular and other lakes have a tremendous potential of producing iodine rich honey which can fetch exorbant prices in the world market and can be used by the thyroid deficiency and gout patients.

The water for agriculture of Ladakh comes from the Indus, which runs low in March and April when barley-fields have the greatest need for irrigation. The staple crop of Ladakh is barley and in some areas wheat, peas, vegetables and mustard for oil are also cultivated. Crops are grown in summer and the gleaming green view of the fields sets a perceivable contrast to the bare stony area. Roasted barley meal (ngamphe) is the main diet and barley is acidified to produce the alcoholic `chang` that is a must for all celebrations. Centuries of plant breeding have produced superbly adapted local varieties. The emphasis in Igu-Phey is being laid on the cultivation of fodder crops, principally the indigenous ol (lucerne), which takes most of its water in June, when Indus water is plentiful. The Igu-Phey canal doubles up as the water-supply for the three-megawatt Igu-Martselang hydroelectric project.

Apart from these projects, some smaller projects were taken for the development of water resources. Even irrigation potential has been created over an area of nearly 5000 hectares, through the construction of canals and water-harvesting tanks. Some of the non-official agencies had also undertaken integrated development schemes in limited areas, involving the application of modern appropriate technologies including hydraulic ram pumps and solar pumps. In spite of the established excellence of Ladakhi crop agriculture official policy has confirmed to improve it by the use of chemical fertilizers and the introduction of high-yielding varieties of crops. Presently, in Leh the total cropped area is about 17,000 hectares.

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