SRINAGAR: The government is contemplating to introduce a famous Kashmiri variety of hazelnut—Virin—in cold and hilly areas of the state.
“The Kashmiri variety is in great demand worldwide for its medicinal value. Its introduction would expose the farmers to a new commercially-viable product,” the Minister for Horticulture, Abdul Rehman Veeri, said during his daylong tour to Kokernag area in south Kashmir.
The minister visited the hazelnut orchard at Lehenwan, Vailoo and Lisser fruit plantation nurseries. He also inspected the high-density apple orchard set up under private sector in Bimdoora area.
The hazelnut orchard set up by the Horticulture Department on 400 kanals of land at Lehenvan (Mati Gawran) is frontline demonstration plot to make farmers aware about cultivation of the fruit on scientific basis.
“The government plans to graft the local variant of hazelnut high-yielding varieties grown at Lehenvan demonstration plot. I have directed the Horticulture Department functionaries to set up demo plantation areas in each district and let farmers see it for themselves,” he said, adding that the HP&M department has been instructed to explore marketing facility of “this rare” dry fruit.
Veeri ordered fencing of the hazelnut orchard and construction of inspection huts at Lehenwan and Lissar fruit nurseries. He also instructed the concerned authorities to formulate DPRs for funding.
Horticulture is one of the main contributors to the state’s economy, constituting, along with other allied sectors, above 20 per cent of the SGDP. Often describing horticulture as “the backbone of state’s economy”, the ruling PDP-BJP coalition has assured measures for giving boost to the sector.
Besides making budgetary allocation for the sector’s growth, the government has been repeatedly assuring farmers of policies that, among other benefits, guarantee crop insurance and market intervention to regulate the export of fruits.
One of the most ambitious moves initiated by the government is introduction of high-density plant varieties, which would be imported from European countries. Earlier this year, the state formally sought technical help from Netherlands for successful introduction of the high-density varieities in the state.
Recently, the process was started for establishing two Centres of Excellence in the state with the help of Netherlands.
At Kokernag, Veeri said 10 kanals of nursery land would be brought under the cultivation of high-density apple plants imported from Europe.
“It will be a frontline demonstration plot for awareness of the fruit growers of the area,” he said.
Meanwhile, to ensure “reasonable price” of walnuts produced in the area, a walnut processing unit would be established at Zalangam along with a high-density fruit plantation nursery on the land under JKHPMC, the minister announced.
He directed the concerned authorities to take necessary steps in this regard.