Farmers in Kulgam convert agricultural land into orchards, risking the title of “Rice Bowl”
According to reports, farmers in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district have been converting agricultural land into orchards, which could relegate the district’s nickname as the “Rice Bowl” to the past.No Objection Certificate (NOC) is required for people who wish to convert agricultural land to horticultural land. “It is unfortunate to know that the owners of agricultural land have decided to convert it into orchards, which is against the rules. Prior to deciding to use the land for horticultural purposes, they should obtain NOCs,” said the officer.
In spite of acknowledging that agricultural land is being converted into horticulture, one of the farmers, Mohammad Ashraf, stated that the government is providing only five kilograms of rice, which is inadequate. In the context of a reduction in government rations, he was unable to rationalize the people’s decision to cultivate orchards.
According to another local, the conversion of agricultural land to horticulture is also jeopardizing the district’s epithet “Rice Bowl”, which the locals have proudly referred to since the 1950s. According to Ravinder Kumar, Chief Agriculture Officer of Kulgam, there were 12,957 hectares of land under agriculture in 2021-22, compared to 11,154 hectares in 2022-23.
According to SDAO Kulgam, farmers have converted paddy fields into orchards unauthorizedly and the government should issue an order justifying the conversion.