Fruitful Endeavours

The horticulture landscape in Jammu and Kashmir is geared towards making the region the fruit basket of the world

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 9:40 AM

Last updated: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 9:41 AM

The J&K region is blessed with varied agro-climatic zones, which enable a wide variety of agricultural and horticultural produce, some of which are unique to the area. Horticulture is emerging as a growing segment and has been identified as one of the important and potential sectors of J&K’s economy as it generates sustainable employment opportunities and contributes about Rs10,000 crore to the gross domestic product. As per official figures, the livelihood of 35 lakh people in the UT is directly or indirectly dependent on horticulture, making it one of the main employment generation sector. This sector contributes significantly to the economic and ecological development, employment generation, export and nutritional requirement of the people of state. It also provides ample opportunities for sustaining large number of agro industries.

J&K is endowed with different agro-climatic conditions and topography, greatly strengthening the scope for various commercial horticultural activities. The Kashmir valley and few pockets of Jammu region fall within a temperate zone, suitable for cultivation of fruits. Additionally, a major part of Jammu region and two blocks of Kashmir valley fall within the sub-tropical zone, which is suitable for production of stone fruits besides almond, pears, pecan nut and kiwi. The sub-tropical zone consists of Jammu region producing mango, citrus, guava, litchi, bear amla etc. The UT offers good feasibility for cultivation of horticultural crops, covering a variety of temperate fruits like apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, almond, cherry and subtropical fruits like mango, guava, litchi, besides medicinal and aromatic plants, floriculture, mushroom, plantation crops and vegetables. Apple is the most important fruit crop of J&K, with about 48 per cent of the total cultivated area being covered by apple trees, as per the horticulture census 2016-17. J&K is the largest producer of apples and contributes about 75 per cent of the total apples produced in India. In 2019-20, the total production of horticulture crops in the UT was 3,912.91 thousand metric tonnes and area under production was 400.25 thousand hectares. Saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir is unique in the world. The annual production of Saffron in Jammu and Kashmir ranges from 10 to 20 tonnes

In 2020-2021 an approximate area of 3.33 lakh hectares was under fruit cultivation, which led to a production of 20.35 lakh metric tonnes during the same period. The cultivation of high-density apples has already started transforming the landscape of apple production in Kashmir and is expected to give a boost to the apple economy in coming years.

Food processing industry offers tremendous opportunity for the commercial exploitation of horticulture of the UT. However, currently commercial processing is around 1 per cent with only 25 per cent of the walnuts being processed due to lack of post harvesting and processing facilities as well as unscientific packaging. Therefore, opportunities are open for exploiting the potential under processing, through individual, joint venture and government efforts.

The J&K government is making all-out efforts to tap the potential in order to give a fillip to the socio-economic condition of all those who are associated with the sector and to contribute to the betterment of livelihood of apple growers. In this regard, it has recently launched a Market Intervention Scheme (MIS)-2020, which is intended to provide relief for apple growers. It will provide a comprehensive insurance cover against any obstacle, thus helping in stabilising the income of apple farmers. This scheme will make way for the procurement of 12 lakh tonnes of apples, which will not only ensure profitability to the apple growers but at the same time, it will also create rural employment through services such as packaging and transportation.

J&K has 30 per cent potential for procession of C grade apples but only less than one per cent is processed due to the shortage of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage units. At present, there are only 1,55284 metric tonnes of CA storage capacity available in the UT against a requirement capacity of 2.5 metric tonnes. Currently, 20 lakh metric tonnes of fresh fruit is exported outside J&K annually. There is a requirement of 1,500 refer vans — refrigerated transport — each with a carrying capacity of 16 metric tonnes. J&K has three terminal mandis and 11 satellite mandis.

-— Source: Department of Industries and Commerce, Jammu and Kashmir

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