J&K sets sight on Middle Eastern market for its horticulture produce

With a view to promote Kashmir horticulture produce across the globe, a delegation of top government officials along with progressive fruit growers are participating in UAE- India Food Security Summit 2020 to be held in Dubai from December 7 – 10. The delegation led by the Principal Secretary, Agriculture production, Naveen Chowdhary, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat along with dozens of progressive farmers will have business to business interactions with multinational companies and international buyers.

As per the officials, the potential buyers which the J&K delegation would be targeting will include Lulu supermarket, Choitram supermarket, Carrefour supermarket, Taj Hotels catering Dubai, Al Adil supermarket, Waitrose supermarket and Emirates airline catering services.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat said “it is an attempt to expand footprints of Kashmir’s fruit industry across the globe. Within country our horticulture is doing good, but now we would like to introduce our fruit in international markets too with our competitive prices which would ultimately help our growers and traders.”

“We have taken samples of apples varieties, walnut, almond, saffron, canned cherry, Kashmiri wazwan, Jammu based fruits, spices, pickles, jam, apple concentrate, honey with us for the sampling process,” Bhat said.

According to officials, Jammu and Kashmir is expected to exchange some MOUs with various multinational companies of UAE, fruit show and B2B meetings with top companies of international repute. The Indian embassy is organizing the summit, council office of India will arrange B2B, government to government meetings.

As per the official details around 7 lakh farming families (approx 35 lakh souls) are directly or indirectly dependent on Horticulture which contributes about 9 percent to Jammu and Kashmir’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Over the years, the area under fruit cultivation has increased to 3.31 lakh hectares in 2018-19 and the production of fruits has increased to 24.44 lakh MTs.

According to the official figures, the area under cultivation of fruits in Jammu and Kashmir increased from 2.21 lakh hectares in 2001 to current 3.31 lakh hectares thus registering an increase of 1.1 lakh hectares in two decades.

The horticultural sector not only sustains Jammu and Kashmir’s economy but it has also carved a distinct place in the national fruit market. In India 77 percent of all apples and 90 percent of all walnuts come from J&K. The UT has been declared as the “Agri Export zone for Apples and Walnuts.” The other fruit crops grown in the UT are almonds, pears, cherries and apricots in temperate areas and mango, citrus, litchi, papaya, guava etc in subtropical areas. Saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir is already renowned. Globally, Iran ranks first in the production of saffron with its contribution to 70 percent of total production. India stands at 3rd position with its entire saffron crop coming from J&K.