Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir’s Horticulture is silently showing progress as the annual income generated by the fruit industry has crossed over Rs 10,000 crore.
Horticulture is the major sector which plays a key role in the economy of Union Territory. “It generates approximately Rs 10,000 crore annually income. Contributes 8 percent to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP),” reads an official document accessed by Greater Kashmir.
As per the government figures, 7.5 lakh families/35 lakh population are involved in this sector. It is the main employment generation sector (each hectare of orchard generates 400 man-days per year of employment.)
“Emerging /growing sector having ample opportunities for agro-industries/employment. An area of 3.33 lakh hectares (2020-21) is under fruit cultivation. A production of 20.35 lakh MTs (2020-21) has been recorded,” it reads.
A senior official said that the government of India as well as the J & K government is keen to expand the growth of the horticulture sector. “This sector can transform the economy of UT tremendously over the next decade by creating job opportunities, increasing the production to maximum economic growth, ecological development , and poverty alleviation of the UT.”
“Among the various crops, apple and walnut are the major temperate fruit crops accounting for about 75 percent of the total area and 65 per cent of the temperate fruit production, respectively,” he said.
In India total apple production is approximately about 28 lakh MTs and of which 20 lakh MTs are produced from J&K.
Further officials informed that for the first time in history, 2000 trucks of vegetables have been exported from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country. "J&K has achieved top position in the entire country with a yield of 70 quintals per hectare of paddy. We are converting 60,000 hectares of Basmati agricultural land into high productivity land."
The Rs 8,000 cr worth market of apples is changing the lives of 30 lakh people connected with the sector, he added.
According to the official figures, the area under cultivation of fruits in Jammu and Kashmir increased from 2.21 lakh hectares in 2001 to 3.33 lakh hectares thus registering an increase of 1.22 lakh hectares in two decades.
On one hand the land under agriculture has seen a continuous decline but on the other hand the area under horticulture has seen a huge increase which has cemented the latest position as a torch bearer of the economy.
The figures by the Horticulture Department further reveal that fruit production in the Union Territory (UT) has considerably increased too. In 2001, the fruit production was recorded at 10.9 lakh metric tonnes and the same has now gone up to 24.44 lakh metric tonnes. Apple fruit enjoys a lion's share in fruit production. In the same period, the production of apples has doubled from 9 lakh metric tonnes to 18 lakh metric tonnes.