June 2, 2018
The apple basket of India-KASHMIR, has around 145868 hectares making almost 89% of the horticulture land in Kashmir is under apple cultivation.
With Rs. 9000 crore plus turnover, the apple cart is the solid spine of Kashmir’s countryside economy.
Tasaduq Mueen, Nursery Registration Officer said that the apple dominates fruit production in J&K state by covering an area of 1.63 lakh hectares and production of 17.27 lakh metric tonnes during 2016-17.
He said that climate and agro-ecological factors of Kashmir are ideally suitable for the cultivation of apples.
“The most important factor in the cultivation of apple is proper selection of varieties which have commercial value and are also suitable for effective cross-pollination,” he said.
He said that Lal Ambri, Sunhari, Akbar, Firdous, Shireen, Shalimar Apple-1, Shalimar Apple-2 are the new varieties of Apples released by SKUAST-K.
“With fruit farming, particularly apple fetching hard cash, the area under fruit cultivation in the state has increased from 2.95 lakh hectares in 2007-08 to 3.38 lakh hectares in 2015-16,” Mueen said.
Mueen added that when the ports will be opened for import of apples, the market will be flooded with foreign varieties which are cheaper and presentable. Therefore, we will be suffering huge losses.
“Our apple is sweet, tasty and famous. But we cannot match the technology of foreigners. Plus their packaging and presentation is very good,” he added.
Apple cultivation first came to Kashmir in the 1930s, when it covered just 12,000 hectares in north Kashmir’s Sopore. Over eight decades, it emerged as a major contributor to Kashmir’s Gross State Domestic Production (GSDP). Today, horticulture, dominated by apple production, is a Rs. 9000 crore sector for the state, up from Rs. 6000 crore in 2015.
He further added that the famed Kashmiri varieties of Ambri and Delicious are vanishing from the market. The varsities need to step in to preserve these local varieties.