Baramulla: As the plantation season has just begun in the Valley, demand for various saplings has increased ensuring good earnings for those involved in selling plantlets. Demand for apple, cherry, pears and walnut saplings is growing with every passing day, traders say.
The surge in demand of saplings can be gauged from the scene evident in various markets in North Kashmir’s Baramulla town where sapling sellers have set up their stalls on roadsides with large number of framers purchase bundles of saplings to plant them in their fields.
People associate with the trade say that more than 6 lakh saplings are sold in every season in Baramulla town, and this year the sales may go up. Each apple sapling sells for Rs 20 to 60 while as walnut sapling are sells from Rs 150 to 250 each.
“We are doing brisk business and make good profit compared to what we made last year,” said Bashir Ahmed, a sapling seller from Rafiabad.
Driven by market trends, many apple nurseries have come up in many parts of North Kashmir like Sopore, Rafiabad, Pattan, Narwave and their adjoining areas where farmers have turned their agriculture land into nurseries from last few years.
From last six years, the farmers and agriculturalists of Baramulla district are earning whooping amount by this business. And more people are developing interest with the trade.
“It is too simple. After purchasing baby plants for Rs 1 or 2, we plant them in land. Nearly 5000 to 6000 baby plants are planted in one Kanal of land. After two or three years we sell them as per their growth. Not only apples, cherry, walnut, pears, popular and other fruit saplings,” said a nursery grower Ghulam Rasool Dar.
Another grower, Ghulam Rasool Yatoo of Rafiabad, who has converted 20 Kanals of paddy land into a sapling nursery, said unlike paddy cultivation sapling cultivation is less toiling.
“You will not find these kinds of sapling anywhere in valley. Healthy growth of these saplings is certain and they are water scarcity resistant,” he said.
Most of the growers, however, rue that government is not paying attention towards their problems and is no providing them any incentive for boosting the trade.
“Only nurseries of influential people here have been registered by horticulture department and majority of us have been left in lurch. These registered nurseries are being provided subsidy on fertilizers and fencing free of cost,” they said.
However, District Horticulture Development Officer, Hamid Ali Khan, said that were not approaching them for any guidance or technical knowhow. “We have 60 percent horticulture in Barmaulla while as 40 percent is in rest of the valley. The growers don’t approach us for registration and guidance owing to which we have to get plant material from south Kashmir. The nursery owners should approach us as there is vast business scope,” said.
“Nurseries grown in paddy fields is an unhealthy trend which need to be discouraged as the plants grown in them won’t be healthy but disease prone,” added Khan.
However, experts in Agriculture department opine that this trend will destroy self-sufficiency in rice production at large scale as people have stated converting their paddy land to cultivate nurseries.
“Already much agriculture land has been converted into horticulture use and rampant construction on it is going on. This new trend of growing nurseries in rice fields would further put rice production in jeopardy,” said an Agriculture Officer Baramulla, Farooq Ahmed Kakroo.