For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser.

Revolutionising Oilseed Farming in J&K

SKUAST-Kashmir’s innovations and its impact
12:00 AM Apr 15, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
revolutionising oilseed farming in j k

India is one of the leading global producers of oilseeds, annually yielding over 38 million metric tons. However, it faces a substantial challenge as the primary importer of vegetable oils, indicating a widening gap between production and consumption. For instance, in 2013-14, India imported 11.6 million tonnes of edible oils valued at Rs 60,750 crore.


By 2022-23, these figures rose to 16.5 million tonnes worth Rs 138,424 crore, emphasizing a critical reliance on imports to meet domestic demands. In Jammu & Kashmir, this disparity is particularly stark, as local production significantly lags behind regional demand due to factors like population growth and changing dietary preferences.


The region's requirement for edible oils is 14.20 lakh quintals, whereas local production is only 3.36 lakh quintals, showcasing a 76% dependency on imports.


Top of Form


Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K) has played a pivotal role in addressing the oilseed production challenge in the region. Since the early 1980s, SKUAST-K has undertaken extensive research and development efforts focused on improving oilseed varieties suitable for the agro-climatic conditions of Jammu & Kashmir.


Under the All India Coordinated Research Project on Rapeseed-Mustard, SKUAST-K has developed many high-yielding, stress-tolerant varieties tailored to the specific needs of the region. Based on our analysis of government data regarding the oilseed cultivation area and production, it is estimated that SKUAST-K-developed varieties contribute approximately 850 crore INR annually.


Over the decades, SKUAST-K's breeding programs have yielded notable successes. The journey began with the release of KOS-1 in 1994, followed by KOS-101 (Gulchin) in 1996, which represented early milestones in improving brown sarson crop yields in the valley. The breakthrough came with the introduction of the Shalimar series—Shalimar Sarson-1 (SS-1), Shalimar Sarson-2 (SS-2), and Shalimar Sarson-3 (SS-3).


These varieties exhibited significant yield potential, ranging from 16 to 17 quintals per hectare, representing a marked improvement over earlier releases. Brown sarson (Brassica rapa) has two distinct ecotypes: 'lotni' (self-incompatible) and 'tora' (self-compatible), with the former being predominantly cultivated in Kashmir due to its cold tolerant character. Additionally, SKUAST-K has made significant strides in promoting Gobhi sarson (Brassica napus) as a promising alternative for oilseed production in Kashmir. The recent release of Shalimar Gobhi sarson-1 in 2022 showcases the university's commitment to diversify crop options and improve oilseed productivity.

One significant challenge faced by farmers in Jammu & Kashmir is the poor performance of oilseed varieties imported from Punjab and Rajasthan. These varieties often fail to adapt to the cold temperate conditions of the valley, leading to suboptimal yields and disappointing results for local farmers. The lack of winter hardiness and delayed maturity of these varieties underscore the importance of developing region-specific varieties through research initiatives like those undertaken by SKUAST-K.

SKUAST-K, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, plays a crucial role in maintaining the seed production chain from breeder to foundation to certified seed. This ensures the availability of high-quality seeds for scaling up production and distribution to farmers across the valley. However, challenges associated with the cross-pollinated nature of brown sarson pose limitations on seed purity and uniformity.

Due to the cross-pollinated nature of brown sarson, achieving Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) of 50% is essential to sustain seed purity. Further, SKUAST-K is continuously engaged in developing new oilseed varieties to enhance production and productivity, aiming to improve the Varietal Replacement Rate (VRR) for sustained agricultural progress.

Under the Holistic Agriculture Development Programme (HADP) project "Promotion of Oilseeds", SKUAST-K has conducted 17 demonstrations across the valley to showcase the performance of newly developed high-yielding oilseed varieties and promote best agronomic practices. Starting from the rabi season 2022-23, there has been a growing demand for Shalimar Sarson-2 (SS-2) from the University due to its exceptional yield potential of 15 quintals per hectare, coupled with its tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, making it highly suitable for rice-based cropping systems.

Collaborative efforts with Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) have been instrumental in disseminating knowledge and technology to farmers, facilitating capacity-building programs, and enhancing oilseed production through hundreds of CFLDs on SS2 supervised by KVKs.

Looking ahead, SKUAST-K remains committed to advancing oilseed farming in J&K by focusing not only on increasing yield but also on enhancing oilseed quality. The university's research agenda includes developing varieties with higher productivity potential, aiming for yields nearing 20 quintals per hectare, while also improving oilseed quality through targeted breeding and agronomic practices.

Integrated crop management technologies, including optimised nutrient management, appropriate sowing dates, and pest management strategies, will continue to be pivotal in unlocking the full genetic potential of new varieties and addressing agro-ecological constraints.

In conclusion, SKUAST-K's dedicated efforts have not only contributed to boosting local oilseed production but also empowered farmers with resilient, high-yielding crop varieties. As Jammu & Kashmir endeavours to enhance its self-sufficiency in oilseed production, ongoing research and collaborative initiatives underscore a promising trajectory towards agricultural self-reliance and sustainability. The university's commitment to innovation and knowledge dissemination remains essential in achieving long-term food security and economic prosperity for the region.                           

BY N.R.Sofi, Ashaq Hussain, and Abid H Lone

N.R.Sofi, Associate Director Research MRCFC, Khudwani.