Srinagar: When Mashooq Ahmad Dar, 34, completed his graduation, he tried hard to get a job both in the government and private sector.
While he couldn’t make it on the government job list, the private sector didn’t thrill him because of low wages. For two years, he stayed idle and assisted his father in farming.
The agriculture sector was going through the initial stage of transformation as the government had introduced exotic crop varieties. “During that time, the agriculture department introduced sweet corn in Uri, which is my native place. Sweet corn is a very exotic crop which is in high demand and fetches good money,” he said.
Dar experimented with the crop and luckily it clicked. “Now I have completely involved myself with farming. I grow sweet corn on my three kanals of land and export it to various states. I earned more than Rs 3 lakhs in the very first year,” he said.
Dar is not an isolated case. The agricultural sector is attracting a large number of educated youth who want to launch their startups in Jammu and Kashmir.
From highly organic veggies to exotic varieties and from corns to lavender, youth are trying new things to carve a niche for `Produced in Kashmir’ Agri products.
Data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that 9,37,554 farmers from Jammu and Kashmir have last year sought financial assistance from banks to expand their agri-businesses.
As per figures, banks have provided an aggregate credit of Rs.27,511.62 Crore in favor of these beneficiaries.
Figures also reveal that currently Lal Mirch, a superior variety of chilies, is grown on 1182 hectares in Kashmir. Sweet corn is grown on 160 hectares with an annual production of 6105 Quintals.
Similarly, other exotic vegetables are grown on over 125 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir.
Director Agriculture Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal said agro-climatic conditions in the valley offer a wide range of opportunities to entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector.
“Kashmir has the potential to produce different vegetables and crops. We are unique in the sense that when the rest of the country is not able to produce fresh vegetables, we can. This will allow us to explore the marketing avenues and fetch good returns for our produce,” he added.
Last year, for the first time the agri-products of Kashmir were exported to UAE. It followed the exhibition conducted jointly by the Agriculture Department and the internationally acclaimed Lulu Group in Dubai. Kashmir-specific vegetables, spices, and cereals were showcased which were loved by one and all.