Land identified at Zainpora Shopian for advanced horticulture centre
Srinagar: Kashmir will soon produce high-yielding varieties of apples and walnuts, which will prove to be a “game changer”, if plans of the Horticulture department bear fruit.
Director of Horticulture in Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat said that about four-hundred rupees will be saved per sapling, time period of cultivation will be reduced by years, and produce per plant will significantly go up with high-density apple varieties.
As of now, there are very few orchards in Kashmir where the high-density apples are grown. This is fundamentally because its procurement cost is almost Rs 600 per sapling. It can be afforded by only those who establish new apple orchards, not in the already existing orchards. The high-density saplings have to be imported from the Netherlands and Italy. Kashmir currently has only 0.07 percent of its 3.4 lakh hectares of total horticulture land under high-density apple cultivation.
“Production of high-density apples costs around Rs 200. It begins producing fruit within a year, as against the existing breeds which take at least six years. On one kanal of land, almost 100 trees can be grown, as against a few dozen of the present breed. Simple mathematical calculations can tell you what it can do for our horticulture sector,” Bhat said.
According to the government figures, the agriculture sector contributes about 50 percent of J&K’s GDP. In terms of value of produce, horticulture takes the lead in this sector, with apples bringing more than Rs 10,000 crore annually. Walnut is another prime product that accounts for most of the consumption in India.
“JK can take the lead in South Asia once we are able to produce our own high-density varieties,” Bhat said, adding that this has become possible after an agreement with the National Seed Corporation (NSC) for setting up an Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development in Kashmir. About 400 kanals have been identified at Zainapora in Shopian where it will be set up. The facilities will include laboratories, bore wells, weather detecting and soil testing machines, and certification of quarantine.