Ashiq Hussain, a 35-year-old Turkawangam Shopian inhabitant, earned his MPhil from Rajasthan in 2015 and then began preparing for various government jobs. He put forth a lot of effort to seek a job with the government but was constantly passed over by a little margin in interviews for various positions.
Dejected about not being chosen for a government position, Ashiq resolved to create his high-density apple orchard after finding inspiration in his neighbour, who had done so in 2018.
“I met my neighbour and inquired about various pros and cons of high-density apple trees. He encouraged me to go for it but added that I would have to register in the horticulture department for setting up my unit,” Ashiq Hussain told Greater Kashmir. “I had developed a passion for growing high-density apple trees and by registering in the horticulture department meant that I had to wait for next year so I decided to buy the plants from a private firm,” he added.
“My search ended at Matalhom Kulgam from where I bought the desired stock from a government teacher who had set up his nursery of high-density apple plants. I bought a total of 350 plants by paying Rs 250 for each plant,” he added.
“In December 2019 I planted these plants on my three Kanal plot located near my house. I was disheartened to harvest very less crops in 2020 but it boosted me to work with more enthusiasm about the growth of trees."
“I had already established a vermicompost unit so I had enough manure to feed the trees. I worked hard to nurture the trees the previous year and ended up harvesting almost forty crates weighing 20 kgs each. I sold one kg of apples for Rs 80 and thus earned a handsome. I had to spend only Rs 5000 on pesticide sprays,” he added.
Ashiq is anticipating a bumper crop this year as his trees are completely packed with apples. “If all goes I would be harvesting three hundred crates this year, that means an income of Rs 4 lakhs,” he said. Ashiq said that farmers should adopt new techniques of farming. He suggested that they should opt for high-density apple trees instead of traditional ones. He counted the number of benefits of high-density apple trees.
“The crop gets ready to harvest in the first week of August so within six months a farmer can earn lakhs of rupees. The second important thing upon which farmers spend a huge amount happens to be pesticide sprays. This year I had to spend only ten thousand rupees on pest side sprays so you can imagine how much less amount I had to spend on sprays,” he added.
“Since ninety percent of youth living in rural areas possess their land, I suggest that instead of looking for some other means of livelihood they should turn to high-density apple farming,” he added. “A few years back I would take money from my parents for daily usage but now I am in a position to help them with a handsome amount,” Ashiq added.
Ashiq is encouraging youth across Kashmir to go for high-density apple farming so that they can become self-reliant. He is planning to spread his apple farming and has already started to work on another piece of land to plant more high-density apple trees.