Sopan Kanchan, Sachin Korde and other leading experts in horticulture from Maharashtra have expressed their willingness to help Kashmiri farmers with the advanced technology in this field.
A delegation of youth from apple growing families in Kashmir today met Kanchan and Korde.
"Cold storage and testing labs will be set up in two districts in Maharashtra and Kashmir. This initiative was conceptualized during direct marketing of farm produce from Kashmir in Pune as well as farmers leader Raju Shetti's visit to the valley last year," said Malik, head of the delegation.
"The quality of apples from Kashmir can definitely compete in the international market. I have held meetings with apple growers in Kashmir earlier also. They have good potential," said Kanchan.
Explaining how the Kashmiri apple growers will have to change their perspective to succeed in their endeavours, he said, "This a long-term process. If Nashik can become a grape-export hub, Kashmir can also become an export hub of apples and dried fruits such as apricot, walnut, almond, etc. I asked them to bring Kashmiri farmers to Nashik and see how packaging, grading is done. They will have to improve these processes drastically to compete in the world market."
Once they start feeling confident, they will themselves experiment with other varieties of apple, he added.
Grapes valued at Rs 3,000 crore are exported every year from Maharashtra. Underlining the export potential of stone fruit also, Kanchan said, "Stone fruit is a gift of nature to Kashmir. They have its geographical indication (GI) tag. They will have to learn how this status could be used to promote the fruit. They need to change their outlook." He further said that Kashmiri farmers are totally dependent on the Azadpur Mandi and they should learn to market their quality produce within India through direct marketing techniques.
"The advantage of Kashmiri apples is that they have a longer shelf life. They are organic, juicy and crunchy. Hence, there is a high demand for these apples. A delegation of around 52 apple growers is likely to visit Pune and other places in coming months," said Malik.