Slump in walnut kernel prices worry farmers

Slump in walnut kernel prices worry farmers
Locally called 'Dooyn', the trade of walnuts contributes considerably to the Kashmir's economy. Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Kupwara: Farmers in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district are worried a lot as their walnut produce is fetching lower prices resulting in huge losses to them.

Farmers and walnut traders complain that the prices of walnut kernels have dipped by over 50 percent in the last one year.

They said that the first grade walnut kernel is being sold at Rs 500-600 rupees per kg which used to fetch Rs 1000 to 1000 a kg.

“Same quality was being sold at Rs 1000-1100 per kg last year but this year they were unable to figure out why the rates have plummeted so much,” farmers rued.

Iqbal Ahmad, a walnut grower informed that he would earn a handsome amount every year but could not make profit this year.

"I had purchased walnuts worth thirty thousand rupees. Besides, I had to pay almost ten thousand to laborers for beating, cleaning and removing the kernel from the shell. At the time of selling the kernels I incurred a loss of five thousand rupees," Iqbal added.

Similarly another farmer from Kupwara said that first the hailstorm devastated crops and now the lowest rates have broken our back.

" Earlier business was good, we could easily earn handsome profit but this year there is nothing to save," he added.

Muhammad Suliaman of Alochi Zab Kupwara said that next month his daughter was getting married and he had high hopes of a handsome profit from this year's crop but all his dreams are shattered now as walnut produce is fetching lowest prices.

Meanwhile, a wholesale dealer of walnut kernels said that the rates were down in markets across the country, which is the main reason why farmers were not getting a desired rate of their crop. He said that in a couple of days prices might increase with spurt in demand.

Jammu and Kashmir is the major walnut producing Union Territory with production of around 2.66 lakh metric tonnes on 89,000 hectares of land and contributes to more than 98 percent of the total walnut production in India. While processing of some of the produce happens in the state, the majority is exported unprocessed. Our state contributes to about 98 percent of the walnut exports from the country.

Being organic in nature (which is its USP), as no fertilisers or sprays are used on walnut plants and its yield, and high in nutrients with immense health benefits, Kashmiri walnut has seen growing demand and acceptability in the domestic and international market.

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