Kashmir produced 1956331 metric tonnes of fresh fruits and 2161736 metric tonnes dry fruits during 2018-19 financial year, contributing Rs 10,000 crore to the State’s economy.
According to official records, Kashmir cultivates fresh fruit on 161401 hectares of land, while dry fruits are cultivated on 217130 hectares of land.
During 2017-18, Kashmir produced 1907787 metric tonnes of fresh fruits and 2102844 metric tonnes dry fruits.
Tasaduq Mueen, Nursery Registration Officer in State’s horticulture department said that more than 7 lakh families are directly or indirectly associated with horticulture.
“It is one of the vibrant sectors that contributes almost 7 percent to Gross State Domestic Production (GSDP) and has the potential to generate employment through the involvement of skilled and unqualified and professional human resources,” Mueen said.
He said State has diverse agro-climatic properties, including temperature, sub-temperature, sub-tropical, cold arid zones.
“State cultivation includes a variety of fruit crops such as apple, pear, apricot, walnut, almond, peach, mango, ber, lichi, etc, Mueen said.
He said various departmental activities are financed under Central Sponsored Schemes and complemented by State Sector plans.
The main contribution comes from the flagship programs such as the mission for Integrated Horticulture Development (MIDH) and the Development Package of the Prime Minister (PMDP). There are many schemes under implementation for Development of horticulture in the state.
“The expansion of the area, rejuvenation of old and senile orchards, the management of canopy diseases and plant health, the management of soil health, the development of departmental nurseries, organic agriculture, the creation of water sources, the development of human resources, protected cultivation and the creation of water sources are the components for the overall development of horticulture, " he said.
In 2015-16, approximately 2.22 lacking clonal root stocks were imported from the Netherlands at a cost of Rs. 1.72 crore and planted in the Advance Center for the Development of Horticulture Zainapora in March 2016.
During the year (2016-2017), 121000 fruit plants were imported with the aim of establishing public and private demonstration orchards to boost the concept of a high-density farming system with a higher rate of adaptation in the field.
The development package of the Prime Minister provides Rs. 529 crore for the recovery of damaged horticulture areas and the development of horticulture areas.
Out of Rs.529 crore, Rs. 9 crore was intended for cold storage facilities in Leh and Kargil and Rs.20 crore for subsidy support for the installation of solar drivers in the districts concerned.
Mueen said that during September 2014 floods, an area of 5200 hectares and fruit plants of all categories, mainly apple, were damaged due to the fact that the area remained 5-6 months old.
“The area requires immediate recovery by replacing the trees and also treating the soil. In the first place, the department plans to restore 75% of this area, i.e. 3900 hectares”, he said.
For the restoration of damaged horticulture area and development of horticulture, Mueen said a plan for an amount of Rs. 500 crore under Prime Minister Development package over a period of 3 years that started from Rs.124.29 Crore in year 2016-17, Rs.190.73 Crore in 2017-18, Rs.184.98 Crore in 2018-2019.
He said that presently, the Department has taken an initiative to conduct the 2017 Fruit Tree Population Census.
“This census has been compiled and will prove useful in the preparation of an effective development plan to ensure progress in the horticulture sector,” Mueen said.