SRINAGAR: The state will employ latest techniques such as budding and grafting to boost walnut production, the Minister for Horticulture, Abdul Rehman Veeri, said on Thursday.
He was addressing fruit growers and traders after taking stock of the facilities at Fresh and Dry Fruit Mandi in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, an official handout issued here said.
Stating that horticulture is the backbone of state’s economy and provides “significant succor” to the development process and employment generation, the minister said the Fruit Mandi is being developed on modern lines with “all necessary facilities” on an area of 46 kanals.
Rs 2.96 crore have been expended on its development so far, he said.
He said 158 shop-sites have already been allotted to the growers and traders of the area, while two auction platforms and administrative block have also been constructed.
“Other requisite infrastructure at the Mandi would be completed shortly,” he assured, asking the growers to start operating the shops.
He, however, said the number of shop-sites for dry fruit would be increased, keeping in view the demand from the growers.
The minister said Kupwara district is rich in production of walnut and fresh fruits.
“The government will initiate all requisite steps to change it by introducing high-density fruit plants for better produce,” he said. “Demonstration plots of high-density walnut plants would be set up in the area for the growers’ benefit.”
Processing and value addition of fruits, he said, will not only improve income opportunities but also generate viable means of direct and indirect employment in both on-farm and off-farm activities.
“We have not yet made any foray into the processing walnut. Time has come to tap the huge market in this area,” he said.
He reiterated that the ruling coalition has taken an array of measures to boost horticulture production in the state. It, he said, includes import of high-density fruit plants, employing modern techniques, and upgrading infrastructure.