Kashmir’s indigenous apple ‘Ambri’ to return to orchards after 18 years research

Shopian: After close to two decades of research, Kashmir’s indigenous apple variety, ‘Ambri’, which vanished from orchards long ago, is going to be produced again in the Valley.
The once popular apple variety was exported to multiple markets in the world. But it gradually vanished as its production dwindled in the region due to multiple reasons since 1970s.
Orchardists and horticulture experts say that Ambri was replaced by varieties like delicious, red delicious and golden delicious as the latter apart from abundant produce would also yield reasonable rates.
“It (Ambri trees) would bear fruits late,” said Ghulam Muhammad Dhobi, an orchardist from Shopian. His orchards spread over vast land were known for Ambri variety till 90’s and many would call it ‘Dhobi Ambri’.
Many years after the variety was completely replaced with new varieties, SKAUST set up an Ambri research centre at its Pahnoo wing in 2002. And scientists like Dr Zahoor were deployed for the research and revival of the apple brand.
Dr Zahoor, who studied the variety, explained that it would take 15-18 years for these plants to bear fruits that too with alternate bearing.
“Which is why it vanished despite being unique and indigenous variety, “he added. “It had leathery and buttery peel, which increases its shelf life and its taste is unique compared to the other introduced apple varieties.”
These qualities, according to according to scientists, earned it the name ‘royal fruit’ and it was very much in demand.
Dr Zahoor said that during the research they worked on many aspects to revive this brand which so far is a success.
“The bearing fruit capacity has been reduced to 3-4 years and the challenges such as alternate bearing have been also met to a large extent,” he said.
Bhat cited tree management including use of dwarfing root stock, inter stock, canopy management, use of chemicals and other horticulture scientific techniques resulted in bringing down these problems.
Ambri, according to the SKAUST scientist, is the most relevant variety which can be utilized for organic farming because of being less susceptible to diseases compared to other delicious variety existing in the Valley.
But even as the project has been a success, not many are willing to replace their orchards with the indigenous variety. This, according to Bhat, is mainly due to lack of information and marketing of the brand. Else, compared to other varieties grown in the Valley, Ambri has longest shelf life, more than four months outside cold storages. Now, all that it needs is the government’s attention for marketing and awareness for plantation among orchardists, he added.
Though the government has no figures of its production in 1990s or before but in Shopian the entire orchards were full of Ambri and Maharaji once. But according to official data, nearly 20 hectares of land is under new Ambri with the annual yield touch above 210 in 2018-19.
Dr Zahoor suggests that the fruit is only being grown in the Valley and features of Ambri such as medicinal values and taste should be highlighted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.