To cope-up with the problem of the monkey menace in the Kandi belts of Jammu province, authorities have introduced castor crops in some areas as an experiment to help the farmers to earn their livelihood.
Every year, thousands of hectares of crops are usually damaged by monkeys in the Kandi belts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, and Reasi districts.
Due to the monkey menace, farmers in some parts of these districts have abandoned farming and have been working as labourers in nearby towns and cities to earn their livelihood.
Castor crop introduced to cope-up with the problem
To provide diverse earning avenues to the farmers' the district administration of Kathua started sowing castor crops in the village Logate.
As a maiden initiative in Jammu and Kashmir, the castor crops are being adopted as an alternate crop in the Kharif season through the agriculture department in the district.
While kick-starting the sowing activity, Deputy Commissioner Kathua Rahul Pandey said the initiative was an attempt to provide options to the farmers who can adopt alternates that are scientifically proven and suitable to the local agro-climatic conditions.
"With various by-products in the form of castor seeds, leaves, and stems used as a source of raw material for cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and petroleum industries, the cultivation of castor cropa will boost the income of the farmers in Kandi areas," he said.
The introduction of castor as an alternate crop will also eliminate the threat of monkey menace, especially in Kandi areas, he added.
The DC appreciated the farmers came forward and executed the initiative under the technical guidance of the Agriculture department. He said the farmers in the district and being extended full support through technological intervention, by providing state-of-the-art equipment, and high yielding a variety of seeds to increase farm income.
Chief Agriculture Officer, Sanjeev Rai said every year paddy crop on thousands of hectares of land gets affected by the monkey menace thereby causing huge loss to the farmers and the castor crops offer the best alternative. He said the department was making sincere efforts to mitigate the problems of the farmers and strengthen their socio-economic condition.
Villagers abandon their homes and agricultural land due to the monkey menace in Udhampur
In some parts of the Udhampur district, villagers were forced to abandon their homes and hearths due to the monkey menace.
In these areas population of monkeys has been growing at an alarming rate and they have been creating nuisance in some villages to such an extent that the majority of farmers in the affected villages have given up sowing crops, which has adversely affected their financial position.
Not only monkeys are destroying their crops, they even attack children and womenfolk suddenly, sometimes causing them grievous injuries.
In Udhampur, villages namely Cheryai, Muttal, Sunderani, Jib, Kauh Nallah, Kaghote, Ramnagar, Chenani, and Majalta of Udhampur district forced residents to migrate due to fear. Monkeys are expanding their territories with each passing day and many of them can be seen roaming even in the town scaring and attacking people and causing damage to household articles.