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Horticultural innovation for women
By Mudasir Nazar
From ages Kashmir has remained the symbol of fruits and flowers and posses the capacity of having famous varieties of fruits both fresh and dry, like apple, walnut, almonds, saffron, pears, plums, apricots, cherry, strawberry, grapes and various varieties of wild herbs and because of the availability of such varieties, Kashmir posses tremendous potential for horticulture. Twenty percent of the total cultivable land in the valley is under the cultivation of horticultural crops. As per the government the annual turnover is about 1200 corers and provides benefits to thousands of people in the valley. However, its benefits rarely reach and hardly include all sections of society because the department of horticulture is not sincere in expanding the horticultural activities and enlarge its sphere. Every year lakhs of fruit plants and high density plantation (Bulgarian) plants are distributed and thousands of fruit plant nurseries established on the basis of favoritism and given to private cooperatives.

On the other hand, the state presents a grim situation and crucial challenges. There is a growing challenge of unemployment and underdevelopment which presents a darker side of the valley and cause of worry for lacks of unemployed youth. Kashmir has challenging unemployment scenario with 48% of the youth are unemployed. There are few jobs in the valley but even those are filled with elite connections and illegal measures. Thousands of young educated people especially women have got frustrated and finds bleak opportunities for progressive and gainful employment. The socio-cultural restrictions, depressed market, conflict and educational disparity thwarted Kashmiri women from economic domain and are facing grim situation of economic dependence. Unemployment affects women more acutely than man and wastes their adulthood. At the situation the horticulture industry can act as catalyst of change by becoming generator of economy in the state and by providing job facilities to lacks of people. It may add not only to economy and standard living means but also beauty of the valley.

Women perform much of the horticultural activities But, still women have remained outside from its benefit. Neither state government ever tried to enlarge its application to incorporate women nor women were provided with any mechanism to explore their capabilities in the horticulture sector and took it as a career option. Since women do much of the horticultural activities in rural areas, the horticultural department become compelled to start women development programs in the year 2010-11 like exposure visits to outside state for capacity building and train women in the field of horticulture but unfortunately in many districts like Bandipora no woman was ready to visit partly because of social ignorance and partly because of family restrictions. Further for value addition of fruits and vegetables, one week training campus with thirty girls in each camp were launched exclusively for women in year 2010-11. The total numbers of one hundred eighty (180) girls were imparted training in every district in fruit and vegetable preservation, particularly preservation of jam, Julies, pickles and preservation of dry fruits. The participants were also given certificate and seven hundred rupees. But unfortunately no such program has been launched this year for women development and empowerment.

The innovative work in fruit preservation done by Miss Razeena Akhtar D/O shams-u- din shah of Khenusa Bandipora last year is an example of women’s potential in horticultural sector to explore horticultural activities in order to make it market friendly. She started to work without training and support on self independent lines and starts a fruit preservation unit and is selling various new fruit products. The state government awarded some money and certificate to her for recognition of her commendable job in the field of fruit preservation. This clearly indicates that if women provided with opportunity and support, they can well perform in it and can contribute towards the growth of economy and also achieve economic independence by adopting it as a career option.

Innovation refers to achieve better production or improved production process used in connection with technology. In order to bring change in the economy of state and in the conditions of women, innovative programs have to be put into action. The government must introduce innovative techniques to develop improved varieties of fruits to give boost the horticultural sector and make optimum use of technology and women potential in the state. In order to eradicate unemployment and dependence of women and put women to new heights, self employment schemes needed to be promoted by government.

Training campus and awareness programs need to be launched in order to provide technical training to women farmers in horticulture and allied areas. It must be ensured that women get benefit from the training, extension services and production outputs, because women are less likely to benefit from technical training and extension programs than men. For that there must be a horticultural mission launched exclusively for women and made them aware about various schemes, besides causes treatment and preventive measures of various fruit diseases.

The government can reduce poverty and foster inclusive economic growth through increased youth entrepreneurs in the valley and by actually strengthening the work culture .Women should be provided with fruit processing machines and small fruit processing units and small business women cooperatives have to be established to give it strength. Fruit processing industrial units for women in homes would be welcome step. The processes of fruits and flowers into juice have proven to be high market and women will perform better if given chance. The department has to establish fruit plants nurseries and distribute fruit plants including high-density (Bulgarian) plants among the women orchardists of the valley and enlarge high density plantation suitable and achievable for women.

The money should be provided to women orchardists in the form of subsidy component on plant protection machinery. In order to create irrigation infrastructure in the orchards, tube wells have to be dug by the orchardists and money should be given to them as subsidy component. Deep bore wells, water harvesting tanks and water storage tanks should also be provided on subsidy basis. The department has to expand indoor technology in order to reach it to women orchardists of the valley.

Further, greenhouse technology is women friendly and must have access to it, so the green houses have to be provided to the women orchardists for cultivation of fruit plant seedlings under indoor technology. New designs for sustainable green house locations should be searched and promoted. Women if provided with hanging jute nets and snag bags can increase the production of vegetables. Women having least land can put good quality soil and fertilizers in polymer bags to grow vegetables in homes. These innovative techniques can help women to meet their basic needs by themselves. Nowadays imported products are much preferred than ours, because of the lack of quality preparation and since women are much suitable for preparation and famous for packing and designing, so Preparation and packing of fruits in modern way may be done by women inconformity with modern lifestyle. Market oriented varieties need to be introduced.

Women would be unable to come in the field unless provided with organizational and financial support to organize self help groups. Women can be encouraged through different ways to make optimum use of their skill in horticultural sector, for example to provide cash to invest in horticulture. There must be sufficient fund to launch women friendly programs. It could be done through policies and activities that could help improve opportunities for rural women. Small women’s business units must be established and group based support networks should develop linkages through the value chain by developing economic and social support which is needed to sustain and grow women’s micro business units.

Everyone before entering into the field thinks that there are inadequate marketing facilities for horticultural products and market is not women friendly. The strategy of government can eradicate this problem by making horticultural markets to work for women keeping into consideration their problems. since women cannot move like men and from mandi to mandi in cities, so there must be Modern village mandis with necessary backup of cold storage, transport and other facilities. Through making horticulture sector more women friendly by adopting innovative techniques, not only economy of the state will get boost but the era of prosperity may also prevail in which women will become economically self independent.

(The author is M.Phill scholar of south Asian studies at JNU, New Delhi and can be mailed at

News Updated at : Wednesday, October 3, 2012
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