The state is agro climatically suited for the cultivation of almost all kinds of temperate fruits and also some kinds of tropical fruits. It receives an annual rain fall and snowfall between 30" to 35" and 75 cm to 205 cm respectively. The temperature varies between 7°C to 38°C. Among other factors affecting the growth of fruit, temperature and humidity are the chief ones.
Jammu Kashmir is world-wide famous not only for its scenic beauty but also for its plenty of fruits of various varieties.
Encouraged with the thriving nature of the industry, the Government thought it fit to have a separate department which could be entrusted with the development of horticulture industry in the economy of the State.
Thus, in 1962, Horticulture Department came into existence.
Following the establishment of this department, a major programme known as Integrated Horticulture Project, was launched in the year 1978 in collaboration with the World Bank.
The total cost of the project was 27.6 million dollars (Rs. 24.22 crores), out of which World Bank's share was Rs. 14 crores and the balance was to be met from financial institutions, like Agriculture Refinance Development Corporation and the Industrial Development Bank of India.
This is the first project of its kind in the State. Its purpose is to benefit small growers by providing facilities and services for horticulture purposes.
The State has remained backward partly because of the brutalize altitude of its people, and mainly due to the indifference of the autocratic rulers.
Backwardness of the State has also been the result of the arduous factors like mountainous terrain, poor means of communication and other infrastructural facilities necessary for economic growth.
Inspite of all the natural endowment, it is said to note that the State has no planned economic charter up to 1953 which could identify the problems and fix priorities for their removal. It was after independence that planning in the State, as elsewhere in India was initiated.
The actual process of planning in the State started from 1953. Essentially, it was a modest attempt, chiefly aimed at industrializing the State and exploiting all those areas effectively which were already existing in the economy.
In this direction the agricultural sector in general and horticultural sector in particular also was not left behind.
Horticulture is the backbone of the State’s economy with a yearly turnover of Rs.5000 crores. Presently, it provides direct and indirect employment to about 23.00 lakh people and most of them earn their livelihood from this sector.
Presently, an area of 1.21 lakh ha is under fruit cultivation in Jammu Province with an annual production of 1.87 lakh M.T. (2014-15). Horticulture has been declared as a thrust area by the State Government and various developmental schemes have been taken by the Department under State Sector and Central Sector for promotion of this sector and give further boost to it.
The Department of Horticulture was working under the joint command of Directorate of Agriculture upto 1967-68. Thereafter, Directorate of Horticulture was created at State level.
In April 2004, two separate Directorates were created for Jammu and Kashmir divisions. This has facilitated formulation of policies and programmes at province level.
Horticultural sector contributes immensely to strengthen the financial condition of Jammu and Kashmir. This is a core sector of Jammu and Kashmir agriculture and about 4.5 lakh families are engaged in it. Around 20 per cent area of the state is under horticultural crops.
Horticultural sector contributes around 5000 crores to the annual income of the state of Jammu Kashmir. Among the horticultural crops in the state apple occupies the predominant position constituting around 45 per cent of the total area under fruit crops. Horticultural activities major thrust is given in hilly areas.
The fruit crops grown in the state are almonds, walnuts, pears, cherries and apricots in temperate areas and mango, citrus, litchi, ber, papaya, guava etc. in subtropical areas. Saffron cultivation in Jammu Kashmir is unique in the world.
The annual production of saffron in Jammu Kashmir ranges from 10 to 20 tonnes. The state government has made strenuous efforts to increase horticultural crops production. Incentives are given to the horticultural crops growers by the departments of the state to develop orchards in Kandi and hilly areas.
Subsidy to the extent of 50 percent of fruit plants and inputs used by the farmer are provided. It has been observed that around 40 lakh tones of fruits are exported annually from the state.
This sector contributes significantly to the economic and ecological development, employment generation, export and nutritional requirement of the people of state. Since Jammu Kashmir is endowed with different agro-climatic conditions and topography.
Jammu Kashmir State has been declared as Agri Export Zone for Apples and Walnut. Horticulture is the important contributor to SGDP. The production of 1.83 MTs in 1972-73 has risen to the level of 24.94 LMTs with turnover of s. 6000.00 crore approximately during 2015-16.
Horticulture sector also provides jobs to other related trades such as fertilizer, pesticides, Agriculture machinery, traders and processing of fruits, etc.
The Department of Horticulture Planning and Marketing provides timely market feedback and guide the fruit growers in marketing, handling of post-harvest operation/activities in order to face the market challenges.
Horticulture development is one of the thrust areas and a number of programmes are being implemented, resulting in the generation of higher incomes in the rural areas.