Srinagar: In spite of urbanisation and the conversion of land for non-agricultural uses, Jammu and Kashmir is quietly witnessing a growth in the quantity of land being utilised for fruit cultivation.
“The area under fruits crops has increased by 6978 hectares that is from 334719 hectares in the year 2020-21 to 341697 hectares, recording a growth of 2.08 percent. The overall fruit production has increased by 3.95 lakh metric tonnes during 2021-22 that is from 20.36 lakh metric tonnes in the year 2020-21 to 24.31 lakh metric tonnes, recording a growth of 19.39 percent,” reads an official report of the J&K government.
“Further, under the high-density plantation an area of 6090.91 hectares has been covered during 2021-22, registering a growth of 591 percent over the previous year (880.89 hectares). The overall revenue earned from the export of fresh and dry fruits has increased from Rs 5010.1 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 6369.08 crore in 2021-22, recording a growth of 27.12 percent,” the report reads. A source of employment for 35 lakh people, which accounts to 28 percent of the population, the horticulture industry makes a major economic contribution to Jammu and Kashmir.
The fruit business affects and depends on about seven lakh families, either directly or indirectly.
Each year, 8.50 crore man-days are generated through horticulture.
The government is making an attempt to double the revenue of producers by implementing location-based innovative upgraded technologies and elevating growers to the top of the market for high-quality food.
J&K, particularly Kashmir valley, has been rightly described as the ‘land of fruits’ as well as the ‘fruit bowl’ of Northern India.
Horticulture is an important contributor to SGDP with a share of about 9.5 percent.
The growth graph of the horticulture sector in J&K has shown a tremendous spike with 10,000 metric tonnes of production in 1950 to 25 lakh metric tonnes of production in 2020.
J&K has been declared an Agri Export Zone for apples and walnuts.
Seventy percent of the total apple production and 90 percent of dry fruit production in the country comes from J&K.
The fruit crops grown in J&K are apple, pear, cherry, walnut, almond, chestnut, strawberry, stone fruits and grapes in temperate areas and mango, citrus, guava, litchi, berries, grapes, and oranges in subtropical areas.
Besides, medicinal and aromatic plants, floriculture, mushroom, plantation crops and vegetables are cultivated in J&K.
Well-known spices like saffron and black zeera are also cultivated in some pockets of J&K.
Apple, the major fruit crop of J&K, is more concentrated in the districts of the Kashmir region with a meager share also coming out from the temperate areas of the Jammu region.
Among the districts of the Kashmir region, Baramulla is the frontrunner both in terms of area (25,231 hectares) as well as production of the apple (4,04,089 metric tonnes) followed by Kupwara and Shopian districts.
Pear, the next major fresh fruit crop is grown almost throughout the entire J&K, however, the major share of the production base comes from the temperate Kashmir region where some good cultivars of the crop are grown with longer shelf life.
The apricot crop is grown almost in entire temperate areas of J&K covering all the regions.