The nature has endowed District Kulgam with abundant natural resources. Its fertile land, abundant fresh water resources and favorable agro-climatic conditions have helped in growing a variety of cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and rearing of livestock. Apiculture, mushroom cultivation, rearing of fish and silk worms have of late been taken as remunerative economic activities in the district. The district is known for unique handicraft and handloom products of carpet weaving, crewel & embroidery, gabba and namda making, sozni works, chain stitch, wood works and willow wicking.
The economy of the district has shown a perceptible change over the years due to the steady growth in various economic sectors. The sector-wise performance of various economic sectors is described in the following pages.
Once known as the ‘Rice Bowl of Kashmir’, agriculture is the main stay of the district as more than 80% of the population derives its income directly or indirectly from this sector. It is a vital component of primary sector. Agriculture occupies dominant position in the district in terms of dependence for livelihood and employment.
The total reporting area of the district is 48 lac hectares as per revenue records of which only 0.29 lac hectares is Net Area Sown & 0.057 lac hectares is the area ‘Not available for cultivation’. Other uncultivable land excluding fallow accounts for 0.049 lac hectares.
Keeping in view the growth in population, the net area sown has to be increased for feeding the growing population and to reduce our dependence on imports of food grains/cereals. We have not only to increase the net area sown but also use modern agriculture techniques, fertilizers and high yielding varieties of seeds to get maximum output from the existing area sown. Further, we should also take all necessary measures to store the harvest in a scientific way as it has been observed that 20-30% of the produce gets wasted during harvesting and storage stages.
The main & high yielding crops of the district are paddy & maize in Kharief and oil seeds & fodder in Rabi season.
Apiculture & Mushroom are amongst the important activities under Agriculture sector which provide employment to a good number of un-employed youth. Apiculture production was of the size of 206.80 Qtls in private sector and 2.09 Qtls in Govt. Sector during 2016-17. Likewise, Mushroom production was of the order of 0.35 Qtls in Govt. Sector and 11Qtls in Private Sector in the district during 2016-17.
Apiculture and Mushroom cultivation has a vast potential and high economic value. But the reported achievements are bleak and dismal. Both the activities do not require much investment and labour but persistence and commitment. The department should consider establishment of apiculture and mushroom growing cooperative societies and provide them with the necessary wherewithal and knowhow so that these two branches of overall agricultural sector gain currency and marketability.
Horticulture has assumed greater significance in the district and makes handsome contribution to the District Domestic Product. The district has very high potential in this sector. The cropping pattern has in the recent past significantly changed in favor of horticulture. Consequently the district has more than 25625 hectares of the area under fruit and a variety of fruits like apple, pear, apricot, walnut are grown all over the district.
As many as 02 fruit plant nurseries have been established in the district. Area under fruit (fresh & dry)was of the size of 0.26 lac hectares in 2016-17. Production of fresh fruits was of the order of 217904 MTS and that of dry fruits 25260 MTS. One fruit mandi have also been established in the district at Kulgam town to do away with the large number of middle man and to endure better and renumerative prices to the growers at their door steps.
The state Govt. has taken a number of developmental initiatives to boost the Horticulture sector. Various programmes & schemes have been launched from time to time to ensure integrated development of this sector. Amongst are the Technology Mission (a centrally Sponsored Scheme), Post-Harvest Management (PHM) & Plant Protection Machinery, MIDH (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture), PMKSY (Prime Ministers Krishi Sanchayi Youjna) etc. Lead of the hour is to make a better use of all these initiatives to reap the dividends from this promising sector.
Sericulture (rearing silk worm) has remained an important activity in the past. But with the passage of time, the activity received a serious jolt due to cutting of mulberry trees ruthlessly and lackadaisical interest from rearing persons. Consequently, the production of cocoons was affected adversely. However, efforts are being made to revive this industry by way of providing various types of incentives and better marketing facility to the families attached with it.
A number of 08 nurseries covering an area of 234 Kanals were established in the district. In order to boost the morale of cocoon-rearers, the department is making all out efforts by way of distribution of plants free of cost. As many as 0.32 lac such plants stand distributed among the rearing families during 2016-17. Moreover, 555 OZs of silk-worm seed stands distributed among a number of 519 cocoon-rearing families which has eventually resulted in production of about 23014.575 Kgs of cocoons, thereby, contributing Rs52.45 lacs to the Gross District Domestic Product.
The sericulture nursery area and cocoon production is decreasing which is not a good omen for the sector. The Department of Sericulture should make use of every inch of available area to grow high density foliage mulberry trees so that the silkworms are provided / fed with maximum quantity and quality of mulberry leaf. Besides, the silkworm seeds should be of good quality and high germination ratio to achieve better & high quality yield. Measures are also required to be taken to provide better marketing facilities for the produce to revive the sector.
Live-Stock plays a vital role in the economic development of the district and forms an integral part of the district Agriculture. Live-Stock rearing is the subsidiary occupation of 80% of population in the district having agriculture as their main activity. The live-stock activity contributes a sizeable portion to the GDDP.
As per the data available, the total live-stock population of the district was 2.96 lac heads in 2016-17, in addition to 3.59 lacs poultry birds.
The milk production in the district was of the order of 136.50 Thousand tons during 2016-17. The number of poultry birds was recorded as 3.59 lacs and egg production was equivalent to 10.62 lac Nos. Meat production was recorded as 9.32 lac Kgs and Wool was produced to the extent of 2.86 lac Kgs. This all transpires the importance of the sector in economic growth of the district.
Poultry development has assumed a great significance in the district and is emerging as an Agro-Industry for providing a source of earning to the un-employed youth and highly nutritious animal protein.
The Govt. has established a network of about 63 veterinary institutions for providing health cover to the live-stock population. This includes one Tehsil Level Institution, 02 Veterinary Dispensaries, 02 Frozen Semen Centers, 25 ICD Centers, 21 Trial Centers and Six separate Trial Centers for Gujjar & Bakerwals. There existed as many as 64 Private Poultry farms in the district as on ending March, 2017.As many as 1.19 lac cattle were vaccinated &1.60lac dosed. Likewise, there exist 45 sheep extension/FAC/mobile centers in the district and a number of 1.55 lac sheep/ goats stand treated, 2.11 lac vaccinated and 4.26 lac dosed during 2016-17. Due to strenuous efforts of the departments of Animal & Sheep Husbandry,92 % of the cattle population and 86% of sheep population is cross breed in the district.
The cattle & sheep rearing have a significant role to play in the economic development of our rural and semi-rural areas. Efforts are required that the people realize the economic value of these sustaining and sustainable engagements. The heavy imports of cattle, sheep, poultry birds, eggs, milk and milk products on day to day basis into the valleys are an ample evidence of our deficiency in livestock, sheep and poultry. This can also be construed that there are enormous employment and economic opportunities in this sector. The draining of our economic resources for importing these items should tempt us to rework and concentrate on these profitable activities on modern lines.
As is well known the ranges of Peer Panchaal in the South and South-west bound the district. These ranges are covered with thick and dense forests which comprises of Coniferous and Deodar trees. The total area as on 31-03-2017 under the forest was 440.78Sq Kms which is about 41.31% of the total geographical area of the district. Forests have given rise to a number of processing units, such as, Saw mills, Joinery Mills, Furniture-manufacturing units etc. wherein thousands of people are engaged to earn their livelihood. It has emerged as a substantial revenue-yielding industry. Timber equivalent to about 0.57lac Cfts. was extracted and transported and a quantity of about 828 Qtls of firewood was supplied during 2016-17 to various corners including the district.
In addition, forests help in land and water conservation. Forests have economic environment & enjoyment value in the sense that these help to strengthen our economy, maintain ecological balance and also are a source of enjoyment for the nature lovers. The forest department should undertake a detailed and comprehensive survey to measure and mark the existing forest area. The marked area should further be categorized as prohibited, reserved, game reserved, open for logging. We should at the same time reclaim and re-fence the lost area. We should educate our people about the social, economic, ecological and adventure tourism value of the forests.
Owing to its rich sources of fish, the district is also called “Angler’s paradise”. The fishing has emerged as an economically viable industry in the district. Pisciculture is being developed in streams like Veshow & Sonman. The total Fish caught in the District during 2016-17 has been recorded 66 tons. Revenue to the tune of Rs14.72 lacs stands released through sale of 23211.72 Kgs of Trout Fish in Govt run rearing units at Kulgam, Chawalgam and Tschancer during the reference period, thereby, contributing sufficiently to the GDDP.
Fisheries has come up with an introduction of private fish ponds and 09 such ponds/units stand established till the reference period, thereby, giving a flip to private fish stock helping to provide self-employment to rural enthusiastic and enterprising personnel.
In addition to this the Fisheries Department is taking welfare measures for the betterment of fishing community by way of insurance coverage & construction of low cost Houses etc, besides Nylon Twine Thread, scholarships and other fishing related accessories like tubs, lights etc are also being provided by the Social Welfare Department to the fishing community.
Co-operative movement as an economic system has been in existence in the district like other parts of the state for the last over 97 years. In fact, co-operative movement has played a notable role in every economic sphere of the district.
The Co-operative is linked with manifold activities like sale of essential commodities, K-oil, fertilizers, poultry birds, milk, sheep, medicines and distribution of credit among the rural members. There are as many as 40 Cooperative societies including 16 Primary Agriculture societies, 03 Sale and Service societies, 06 Marketing Societies, 02 Dairy Societies, 11 Poultry Societies and 02 Consumer Stores with a membership of more than thirty thousand persons including 0.23 lac soul memberships under Primary Agricultural Credit Societies. Distribution of fertilizers was of the order of 23075.35 Quintals during 2016-17 in the district.
The high level overdue, inadequacy and irregularity in the availability and management of funds came in the way of expansion of these societies and are responsible for their weakness in the state as also in the district.