Old trees must make way for new, better varieties: Director of Horticulture
Srinagar: The Kashmir Horticulture Department has proposed to remove the ban on cutting of walnut trees in Kashmir Valley. The proposal has been mooted five decades after the ban was imposed in 1969, when the Jammu and Kashmir Preservation of Specified Trees Act was enacted for prevention of cutting, as well as pruning, of walnut trees even if they stood on private land. A permission from the revenue department was required if any of the two was desired by anyone.
Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that the department has written a proposal to the higher-ups for removing the ban so that farmers are encouraged to get into walnut cultivation and older trees can make way for the new.
“Kashmir has the old variety of walnut trees, which take nearly 12 years to yield fruit. They also need a lot of area to grow. This has hampered growth of walnut cultivation. We want to change that, bring better variety of walnuts which can be grown in less time and yield more fruit,” he said.
As per the official figures, Kashmir accounts for over 90 percent of India’s walnut production. In 2019-20, India exported 1,648.26 metric tonne of walnuts, but this was not even half of the walnut produce that it exported five years ago. In 2015-16, about 3,292 metric tonnes worth Rs 117.92 crore was exported. This figure was 2,191 metric tonnes in 2016-17, valued at Rs 55.27 crore, the lowest to which the worth had plummeted. Less production in Kashmir could be the reason. A case in point is Budgam, a place that produces walnuts in large numbers, where production has fallen steadily in recent years.
Bhat said that they are fixing the shortfall by encouraging high-density breed of walnut trees that will give yield in three years. The department is working on setting up a park at Zainapora where these trees will be cultivated.
“It will take some time, but its benefits will be everlasting,” Bhat said.