Agriculture is the most important industry of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Even those engaged in other industries depend on agriculture for raw material. About 80% people in the State are cultivators in one form or the other. The total area of the State according to the 1992 record of India is 24.15 lakh hecteres. Out of this area 138,6867 Sq. Kms. are rural and only 305.4 Sq. Kms.are urban. This signifies that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is rural with 6503 villages. Out of the total area of 24.15 lakh hect. Agricultural statistics are available only for about 8.26 lakh hect. The rest of the area is under forests and mountains.
1. Rice: Cultivation of rice requires hot and moist climate. It is a Kharief crop and is sown in March-April and harvested in Autumn. Sufficient water must cover the fields. It is grown mostly in the valley of Kashmir at 2100 metres above sea level. Total area under rice cultivation in the valley of Kashmir is 374000 acres having a yield of 25.5 quintals per acre.
2. Wheat: It is a rabi crop and its plant requires a cool and somewhat moist climate in the beginning and warm and dry weather at the harvest time. The average rainfall should be between 50 to 70 cms. and that too at intervals. It is sown in August and harvested in March, April. It is cultivated in the entire Outer Plain and the Outer Hills. Important wheat producing areas are Kathua, Ranbirsingpora, Samba and Reasi. In Kashmir, it is grown like grass. Total area under wheat cultivation in Jammu region is 3 l000 acres, in Kashmir 78000 acres and in Ladakh 7000 acres.
3. Maize: It requires hot dry climate. Rainfall required for maize varies from 75 cms to 125 cms. It is sown in May-July and harvested in August-November. It is cultivated on Karewa lands in the valley of Kashmir on about 303,000 acres.
4. Tobacco: It requires a warm and moist climate and a rich soil containing lime. Frost kills it. It is largely grown in the valley of Kashmir.
5. Oil Seeds: Rape seed, mustard, linseed, sesamum, toria, cottonseed are the chief varieties of oil-seeds. They require hot and moist climate. They are grown all over Kshmir province but the chief oil seed producing areas are Anantnag and Srinagar. 6700 acres in Kashmir region produce oil seeds.
6. Pulses: Hot and dry climate suit their cultivation. They are largely grown on small patches of land and the pulses of Kashmir Valley are well known for their quality.
7. Saffron: Saffron is a cash crop and cultivated on the Pampore in the month of July-August Karewas in specially made square beds. Each bed measures l.5m and is provided with narrow trench on all sides to prevent the accumulation of water. The soil is alluvial and lucstrine. About 3000 acres are under saffron cultivation in Pampore.
8. Fruits: like apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, pomegranates, mulberry, peaches, apricots, walnuts and almonds require a cool climate moderate rainfall and bright sunshine. The climate of Kashmir suits their cultivation They are, as such, mostly grown in the valley. Fruit cultivation has been known in Kashmir since very early times.
In recent years fruit cultivation has extended with readily available facilities of better seed, nursery culture, insecticides and very cheap and better transport facilities for their export. Fruit cultivation at present is an important source of wealth to the State. About 3.50 lakh tons of fruits are produced annually, out of which more than 2.00 lakh tons are exported to the foreign countries. Supply of machinery, equipment and technical advice to the orchardists by the State Govt. free of charge has greatly helped fruit cultivation. The training of gardeners and the establishment of a fruit research centre is no doubt helping the fruit industry a lot.
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