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SKUAST-K among top 3 best performing agri universities in World Bank project for 2020-21

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Machine learning training at SKUAST-K

V-C lauds IDP-SKUAST-K team for outstanding performance 

Srinagar, June 4: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir has been placed among the top three best performing State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) of the country for the progress achieved under the World Bank-funded National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) for institutional development in 2020-21.

The performance of 58 Agricultural Universities, including that of SKUAST –KASHMIR, was assessed during the annual review meeting of the World Bank-funded NAHEP of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi on June 2-3, 2021 under the chairmanship of Dr RC Agarwal, National Director, NAHEP and DDG Education ICAR. The review meeting was held online via the Zoom platform and was attended by about 175 participants including experts from the World Bank and ICAR.

The performance was assessed by using the most modern statistical tools of the Project Monitoring and Evaluation indicators devised by the World Bank Experts based on physical and financial and qualitative parameters of the progress achieved in the project during fiscal 2020-21.

The most important evaluation parameter was the outcome and output impacts created through the interventions and activities carried out under the project. It is heartening to learn that SKUAST-K found a place in the top three performing and the elite group of SAU’s with strong performance indicators.  SKUAST-K report on its Institutional Developmental Plan (IDP) under NAHEP was presented by Prof Nazir A Ganai, SKUAST-K’s Director Planning and PI of the project.

Prof Ganai outlined the achievements of the university under NAHEP in terms of building the capacity of faculty and students, pushing institutional reforms and fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the university and the efforts of the university to develop appropriate infrastructure and human capacity in these areas. Dr RC Agarwal National Director NAHEP and the World Bank experts lauded the efforts of SKUAST-K at different fronts for creating the envisioned Model of the Higher Agricultural Education for transforming SAUs under NAHEP based on academic, research, capacity building and institutional reforms for promoting an enabling ecosystem for leadership, life and higher-order skills, innovations, entrepreneurship and employability among the students. The review committee projected SKUAST-K as a model for other SAUs to emulate to bring the vibrancy in performance in line with the envisioned model of NAHEP that seeks to bring in excellence and promote outcome-based education.

Vice-Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof JP Sharma congratulated the team NAHEP of the university and praised Dr Ganai for his leadership in creating an innovative execution model of the NAHEP project that has brought visible changes in the outlook of the university at the national and international level.

Prof Sharma said SKUAST-K envisioned model aims at building next-generation human capital capable of steering knowledge-based and technology-driven agri-economy of the state, transforming the subsistence labour intensive and low remunerative farming into profitable, income-generating and business-oriented agriculture production system. Through NAHEP, he said, SKUAST-K endeavours becoming the most preferred destination of agri-education for creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and a strong research base. In an earlier in-house review meeting on May 21, 2021, Prof JP Sharma said that the project has focused on building the skills of the students to make them innovators, entrepreneurs and industry-ready graduates.

Prof Sharma was delighted to learn that under NAHEP, SKUASTK is establishing two new Centers (1) Center for Artificial Intelligence (2) Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship  Center, which will be a unique facility in Jammu and Kashmir available for prospective entrepreneurs. Prof Sharma observed that the two centres shall help in promoting new-age technologies like the use of drones and robotics and sensor-based precision techniques in agriculture, and incubating and hand-holding for the budding student startups.

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Can kiwi cultivation prove alternative to apple production in Kashmir?

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Can kiwi cultivation prove alternative to apple production in Kashmir?

Dhaar Mehak M

Misbah Bashir

The horticulture sector is seen as the backbone of the Kashmir economy steadily replacing the tourism sector in terms of sustainability and future prospectus. Given the environmental feasibility, Kashmir has been identified as one of India’s most dynamic horticulture hotspots. During the final decades of the 20th century, the region of Kashmir has seen a steady shift from paddy cultivation to apple cultivation. For quite some time the output and outcomes from the orchards of Kashmir have been high. This has ushered in a wave of optimism and people have been heavily investing in high-yielding apple varieties. More or less on an annual basis, people have revealed satisfaction with the outcomes.

Can kiwi cultivation prove alternative to apple production in Kashmir?

The year 2022 has been identified as a bumper year of apple production in Kashmir (apart from other horticulture products). The apple blooms in spring were studied and identified by the experts where it was predicted that the year from across the valley was going to deliver a bumper crop. A wave of happiness ad optimism ran in the supply chain from orchardists to the dealers. Given the demand and pricing trends of previous years, the expected outcomes from 2022 were anticipated to surpass the mean value of the previous decades by a double-digit. However, as the output was ready and entered the market, the returning price was the lowest registered in the previous decade. Among many other factors, a predominant factor behind this was the bulk Indian import of Iranian and Turkish Apples that captured the market and wiped out the demand for Kashmiri apples.

Looking through an alternative economic and horticultural lens, the complete reliance on apples as the sole and dominant outcome of the horticulture sector in Kashmir is a risk of putting all the eggs in one basket. The first step to diversification has been identified as a steady production of kiwi fruit. In contemporary times the only state that is producing kiwis in India is Himachal Pradesh. Lately, Himachal orchardists have realized that diversification is important, and the immediate consequence has been a steady shift to kiwi production. The environmental conditions in both Himachal and Kashmir are equally preferable for kiwi production.

Can kiwi cultivation prove alternative to apple production in Kashmir?The plantation season for kiwi trees is February and March, while the irrigation season is May to July. The plantation takes much less land space than the apple trees. Vegetables and other seasonal crops can be grown in-between the kiwi tress. There are no pesticides of any kind needed for kiwi plantations while on the other hand the apples of all types highly rely on a number of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. This quality makes kiwis organic in nature, better fitting the contemporary market demand. The overall maintenance of kiwi plantations is much easier and cheaper as compared to that of apples. At the same time, the demand and prices for kiwis in the local, national and international markets is much stable as compared to that of apples.

In the first week of November the average price of 18 kgs of Apples in Sopore Mandi peaked at Rs.350 which doesn’t even cover the half basic price of production. Quite contrary to this, one unit of kiwi costs Rs.35 in the local market and one kiwi plant yields 70 kg of kiwis on an average. One kg of dried Kiwis costs Rs.1800 in the market. And the demand for kiwis is very high both in the national and the international markets.

At the moment, SKUAST-K is actively researching in the direction of improvising the kiwi plantation suitable specifically to the Kashmir region. Simultaneously, sale of the kiwi trees is carried-out from time to time. Lately a small number of orchardists from the Baramulla and Sopore area of North Kashmir have been steadily diversifying towards kiwi production. However, during their experimental stages, they are more than happy with their outcomes. The market value of the output has been promising and so is the durability of the output. The kiwi packaging however is different from that of the apple packages and the kiwi farmers of Kashmir complain that at the moment they are not able to find the required packaging solutions.

Can kiwi cultivation prove alternative to apple production in Kashmir?Putting all these factors together, kiwi production can be the next big horticulture venture of Kashmir. Risk minimisation is the first and far most expected benefit from this diversification. If due to some market fluctuations, apples fail to fetch the required price in the market the kiwi market can come to cushion and minimize the damage and losses. The second expected spill-over of kiwi diversification can come in the form of growth in the local corrugated industry. In the present time, the Kashmir corrugation industry mostly specializes in the production of apple boxes. However, with the growth of kiwi production, the corrugation industry will get to diversify and increase its output and employment potential. The cold-store industry of Kashmir is also expected to grow with the growth of kiwi production as the local producers can control the market supplies from time to time in light of the expected profits. The kiwi processing units also have a very high potential of starting up in the region.

 

The authors are affiliated to the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora & can be reached at [email protected] & misb[email protected]

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Integrated Farming System

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Integrated Farming System

Kupwara woman runs profitable farm business with KVK assistance

Aijaz Ahmad Dar
Kaiser Mohiuddin Malik

Somia Sadaf, a native of Kupwara’s Batargam area has started her own dairy business. Sadaf has 10 Holliston Friesan and Jersey cows, 25 Kanal of irrigation land, and 200 Keystone Golden birds with technical help from Krishi Vigyan Kendra Kupwara. She uses a lawn cutter to maintain her property of land and cows.

Somia has also given instruction in the scientific raising and management of cows. She keeps herself up to date about new technologies regarding the maintenance of her land and the marketing of milk. She receives technical assistance for livestock illness management in order to optimise the production of milk and poultry. KVK continually performs and monitors the vaccination and deworming of animals at her farms.

Integrated Farming System

KVK has provided all assistance necessary to set up vermicompost pits so that cow manure is turned into a more lucrative vermicompost. Red worms have also been supplied by KVK for the pits. For additional revenue creation, KVK has also assisted in establishing 200 Keystone Golden-based backyard poultry farm. She has recently started fish farming under the NRLM. Somia’s farming is the best example of an integrated farming system, which can serve as a model for the rest of the farm women.

She manages to sell 150 kg of milk every day worth Rs 6,000. She collects 150 eggs and sells 100 eggs daily. Her daily poultry revenue is Rs 1500 and her daily net income is Rs 7500.

Her marketing plan includes selling products at Kisan Melas hosted by SKUAST Kashmir or the line departments, as well as supplying milk to nearby hotels and neighbours and eggs to neighbourhood clients.

Over the course of her entrepreneurial venture, her family has consistently supported her.

“Support from the family is highly commendable when it comes to managing and feeding cows,” says Somia.

Her accomplishment is partly a result of Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Kupwara’s ongoing technical assistance and supervision.

She was honoured with the district, state, national level and National Rural Livelihood Mission-related certifications, medals, prizes, nominations, and recognition as a successful woman entrepreneur.

Additionally, she has trained 200 farm women in knitting.

Integrated Farming System

Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of J&K, and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kupwara, strengthen and encourage self-motivation in her to set up and run a livestock-based business.

 

Dr Kaiser Mohiuddin Malik is the head of KVK Kupwara and Dr Aijaz Ahmad Dar is an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the Directorate of Planning and Monitoring, SKUAST-K

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Towards self-sufficiency in animal feed

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Towards self-sufficiency in animal feed

Formulation of area-specific mineral mixture for livestock

Parvaiz Ahmed Reshi

In Kashmir Valley, paddy straw forms the predominant part of fodder available for livestock feeding along with a limited amount of oats and concentrates, causing, therefore, energy, protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Though the deficiencies of energy and protein are rectified by various means, vitamin and mineral deficiencies become more intensified, causing poor production performances in animals and consequently losses to livestock farmers. Moreover, the mineral profile of soils and therefore feeds and fodders grown on such soils vary with topography and therefore is often a region-specific problem, demanding the study of the mineral profile of soils and fodders regionally and production of region-specific mineral mixtures for rectifying such mineral deficiencies in animals.  Further being a hilly region Kashmir valley is geographically different from the rest of the country and mineral mixtures produced elsewhere in the country may not hold good for the valley livestock. Various studies including work carried out by the proposer of this startup have found deficiencies of various macro (Ca, P) and micro (Zn and Cu) minerals in feeds and fodders in various districts of Kashmir valley that necessitate supplementation for optimum production and reproductive performances from animals.

Manufacturing and production of Area Specific Mineral Mixtures (ASMM) to help farmers and entrepreneurs get more production and reproduction performances from livestock and create a meaningful and enduring mineral mixture production technology for the benefit of livestock farmers in Kashmir Valley who by virtue of its topography is geographically different (Hilly temperate) from rest of the country (Tropical) was an uphill and an achievable target. An attempt was made in this direction and a specific mineral mixture based on the mineral profile of soil, composite fodder and blood of the livestock being reared in Ganderbal district was formulated

Towards self-sufficiency in animal feed

Baseline study

A baseline study regarding mineral profile of soil, composite fodder and blood mineral profile was conducted in the target area and the data generated was analysed statistically as shown in table 1 to 4

 Table 1: Mineral content of soil in different geographical regions of Ganderbal district (N=125)

  Minerals (ppm)
Critical level (ppm)/Topography Ca

(100)

P

(10)

Mg

(9.1)

Zn

(0.60)

Cu

(0.20)

Fe

(2.0)

 

Hills(60)

% deficiency

Plains(65)

% deficiency

Mean conc.

 

141.50a±4.56

13.33

165.74b±5.79

9.23

154.10±3.86

 

10.71a±0.69

60.0

18.98b±0.82

9.23

15.00±0.66

 

16.49a±0.69

6.67

21.01b±0.71

0.0

18.84±0.53

 

0.84a±0.03

15.0

1.11b±0.07

6.15

0.98±0.04

 

0.63a±0.03

0.00

0.80b±0.04

0.00

0.72±0.02

 

36.66a±1.29

0.00

46.54b±1.37

0.00

41.80±1.04

Overall      %deficiency 11.20 33.60 3.20 10.40 0.00 0.00

Means having different superscripts in a column differ significantly (P≤0.05)

aCritical level=concentration below which the levels are considered as deficient, that is 100 ppm (Jackson, 1973) for calcium,10 ppm (Naskar et al., 2003) for phosphorus,9.1 ppm (McDowell et al., 1983) for magnesium, 0.60 ppm (Takkar and Randhawa, 1978) and (Arora and Sekhon, 1981) for zinc, 0.20 ppm for copper and 2.0 for iron.

 

Table-2: Mineral profile of composite fodder of Ganderbal district (N=125)

Topographical region

 

 

Macro minerals (g %) Macro minerals (ppm)
Ca P Mg Zn Cu Fe
Hills 0.42a±0.02 0.18a±0.01 0.23a±0.00 14.68a±0.57 11.50a±0.37 206.65a ±4.50
Plains 0.90b±0.06 0.29b±0.01 0.25b±0.01 12.49b±0.62 14.47b±0.47 282.77b±6.85
District average 0.67±0.04 0.23 ±0.01 0.24 ±0.00 13.54 ±0.43 13.04 ±0.33 246.23 ±5.37

Means having different superscripts in lower case in columns rows differ significantly (P≤0.05).

CC*= critical blood level as given by Radostitis et al. (2000).

Table-3: Plasma Mineral profile of cattle in district Ganderbal

Minerals (CC*) Topo. Region Physiological status
Milch cows Pregnant cows Dry cows Calves Overall Mean
 

Calcium (%)

(<9.0)

Hills 8.25bc±0.10 8.66c± 0.12 7.97b± 0.18 7.36a±0.22 8.15±0.08
Plains 8.66ab±0.08 9.25c± 0.08 8.35a± 0.13 8.85b±0.25 8.71± 0.07
 

Phosphorus (%)

(<4.0)

Hills 4.34c ±0.08 4.05c± 0.10 3.74b± 0.10 3.24a±0.12 3.99±0.06
Plains 4.53ab±0.07 4.77b± 0.10 4.34a± 0.08 4.47a±0.08 4.52± 0.04
 

Magnesium (%)

(<1.5)

Hills 1.79±0.03 1.78± 0.04 1.69± 0.05 1.76±0.06 1.76±0.02
Plains 1.88±0.04 1.86± 0.06 1.91± 0.04 1.91±0.06 1.89± 0.02
 

Zinc (ppm)

(<0.60)

Hills 0.53± 0.01 0.54± 0.01 0.55±0.01 0.55±0.01 0.54±0.00
Plains 0.57b± 0.01 0.53a± 0.01 0.58b± 0.01 0.57b±0.01 0.56± 0.01
 

Copper (ppm)

(<0.60)

Hills 0.64b± 0.01 0.64b± 0.01 0.62b± 0.01 0.59a±0.01 0.63±0.00
Plains 0.65ab±0.00 0.63ab±0.01 0.64b± 0.01 0.61a±0.01 0.64± 0.00
 

Iron (ppm)

(<1.20)

Hills 2.82b± 0.06

 

2.85b± 0.07

 

2.68b± 0.08

 

2.12a±0.15 2.69±0.05
Plains 2.68b± 0.05 2.99c± 0.07 2.78bc±0.06 1.96a±0.19 2.66± 0.05

Means having different superscripts in lower case in columns rows differ significantly (P≤0.05).

CC*= critical blood level as given by Radostitis et al. (2000).

Based on the mineral profile of soil, composite fodder and blood, the Area specific mineral mixture was formulated.

Table-4: Area specific mineral mixture for livestock based on mineral profile of soil, composite fodder and livestock blood of the operational area

Mineral salt percentage
Dicalcium phosphate 51.0
Limestone phosphate 32.0
Magnesium Oxide 10.0
Zinc sulphate 4.0
Copper sulphate 1.2
Iron sulphate 0.75
Magnesium sulphate 0.82
Potassium iodide 0.12
Cobalt sulphate 0.085

 

Outcome

The formulated mineral mixture was distributed among farmers belonging to Lar, benhama, Arch, Malpora and Nunner for feedback with respect to the milk and reproductive performance. Also the mineral mixture was kept available for sale among farmers at the university seed mela for the 4 consecutive years and farmers were questioned for the milk and reproductive performances.  A common questionnaire was developed for the purpose using simple language acceptable and easily filled by the team leader of the farmers and information with respect increase in milk production, health status, and reproductive efficiency was collected. Based on the feedback received, It was roughly concluded that there was increase in milk production, reproductive efficiency (conception rate) and income generation of the farmers. This can be verified from the fact that the formulated mineral mixture is in great demand and the farmers have been repeatedly asking and purchasing the product. the product is popular among farmers and adoption rate is increasing day by day.

Towards self-sufficiency in animal feed

The author acknowledges the support from the Directorate of Research, SKUAST-K, Division of Animal Nutrition, Krishi Vigyan Kendra-Ganderbal and the line departments in making the programme smooth and successful is highly appreciated and duly acknowledged.

The author is an Assistant Professor of Animal Nutrition at Mountain Livestock Research Institute, SKUAST-K. He can be reached at [email protected]

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