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Kashmir’s Almond industry on the verge of decline
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Kashmir’s Almond industry on the verge of decline

Post by Syeda Rafiyah on Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Srinagar, Mar 13: The almond industry in Kashmir is on decline due to low temperatures and unfavorable weather conditions that are frequent during bloom.
Manzoor Ahmad, a farmer from Shopian said some 20 years back they used to grow almonds and there used to be a good number of almond orchards in Shopian.
“There was a paradigm shift as people moved to apple orchards as apples fetched good returns. People no longer have almond orchards here that were normal before 2000,” he said.
He said the people thought that they would not get good market in almond and shifted to apple. “This time almonds are seen very rare or at scattered places in our district,” he said.
‘It also depends on the market. Before two decades there was less market of almonds later it declined and many people axed almond trees and planted apples,” he said.
Similarly, in Pulwama, almond cultivation which was famous for centuries is vanishing due to the lack of attention of the horticulture department.
Javid Ahmad, a farmer from Pulwama said over the years they have lost interest in the almond plantation. He said wild animals have damaged almond trees in many villages.
“Our land is good for almond cultivation and little efforts from the government can flourish this industry,” he said.
As per the farmers, another cause is competition with more remunerative apple crop. Almond growers are unable to sell their produce as the valley lacks a centralized dry fruit market, or Mandi.
Not only in Pulwama, in Budgam also farmers had been involved in almond cultivation however they have moved to other crops owing to untimely rains in March and cheaper varieties of almonds.
“The karewas have been now damaged due to constructions and soil extraction. Almonds are vanishing. It should have been saved but the measures were not taken on time,” said Abdul Salam, a farmer from Budgam.
As per farmers, horticulture department did not introduce new or high-density almond varieties which are also a reason why the industry is on decline.
In the 1990s, more than 20,000 hectares of land was under almond cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir. But, as per official figures almond cultivation has declined to more than 5,000 hectares.
Director Horticulture Kashmir, Ghulam Rasool Mir said the current area under almond production is 5,411 hectares spread across Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam, Ganderbal Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar.
“The main causes of decline of almond production are low temperature and other unfavourable weather conditions (rain, wind) that are frequent during bloom which considerably reduce fruit set and subsequently the almond production. Non-availability of frost-resistant and late bloom varieties of almond is also a cause. Inclement weather during bloom is one the important reason for decline of almond production in Kashmir,” he said.
“Almond needs to be irrigated during growing season and the trees utilize water at a fast rate; much faster but practically irrigation is impossible at the Karewas of Kashmir and the rainfall is the only source of moisture, which is unevenly distributed thus affecting the yield adversely,” he said.
The Director Horticulture said there are approximately 13.5 lakh almond plants in Kashmir and the valley annually produces 9,804 metric tons of almonds.
He said J&K has recently launched Modified High-Density Plantation Scheme for almond besides other fruit crops. High-yielding exotic varieties on HD Clonal rootstocks suitable for prevailing climatic conditions will be planted under the said scheme on the modern lines.
The department is also working on establishment of almond exclusive nurseries so that the latest varieties of almonds are produced locally. It is also developing irrigation infrastructure in almond growing belts under various schemes like MIDH, PMDP, PMKSY etc.
Under the prestigious program of the Holistic Agriculture Development Plan, launched by J&K government, almond is one of the crops which will receive a flip in area, production and quality.

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