Sopore, Oct 12: Three years back Bashir Ahmad War, a 40-yr-old farmer from Warpora Sopore happened to visit Shimla for some assignment. He witnessed that several farmers in Shimla had switched to Kiwi cultivation which inspired him to establish his own Kiwi orchard back home.
Soon after reaching home, War prepared almost five kanals of land in his locality for a Kiwi orchard. He initially bought plants from the Horticulture department and SKUAST Kashmir and later went to Shimla to bring more plants. At present he has over four hundred Kiwi plants in his orchard.
War is expecting a bumper crop of about 25-30 quintals this year and is being approached by local and non-local fruit merchants for buying the crop.
War told Greater Kashmir that apple has been introduced in the valley long ago and remains the most important cash crop of the valley. He however suggested that the Horticulture sector in Kashmir needs a relook for introduction of new varieties of fruits for better use of land and resources.
“A piece of Kiwi is being sold at Rs 25-30, while an apple costs Rs 5-8. Therefore, it has immense potential and can provide much-needed cash flow to the people,” Bashir said.
“Farmers in Kashmir have to spend a huge amount on pesticide sprays with regard to apples but no pesticide spray is needed for Kiwis, so people should also cultivate Kiwi crop side by side keeping in view the market value and health benefits of Kiwis,” War told Greater Kashmir.
Bashir has set up a Kiwi plant nursery where more than five thousand plants have been grown. “Last year I had grown twenty five hundred plants which I distributed free of cost among farmers with an aim to boost the crop across Kashmir,” he said.
War, who has now gained experience in Kiwi cultivation, said he is free to guide people who want to set up their Kiwi orchards. "They can visit my orchard anytime to have firsthand experience so that things can get easy for them,” he added.