Chief Minister wants to make Kashmir ‘fruit valley of the world’
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inaugurated the state’s first-ever high-density apple orchard, set up by Khurram, a young Valley-based entrepreneur, at Bamdoora in Anantnag district of south Kashmir today.
Speaking on the occasion at the “Model Apple Orchard”, the Chief Minister urged fruit growers to shift to high-density orcharding to enhance apple production, for greater economic returns on their yield. “The government will diversify horticulture by adopting newer techniques and best practices to survive the onslaught of emerging markets in and outside the country,” he said.
The Chief Minister called upon the farming community to join the pursuit of making Kashmir the ‘Fruit Valley of the World’. He said, “If only 20 per cent of our orchards take up high-density farming over the next five years, the Rs 3,000-crore industry would expand five times to a staggering figure of Rs 15,000 crore”.
Referring to the difficult times the Valley has gone through in the last two-and-a-half decades, the Chief Minister credited the fruit growers in horticulture sector and craftsmen in the handicraft industry for sustaining the state’s fledgling economy. He said the people in the state had suffered a lot and deserve peace dividend in the form of sustained development and fair and accountable administration. “It is not in my nature to fight. I don’t like to win fights and lose friends,” he stated.
Recognising the efforts of youngsters like Khurram in diversifying in the revenue-generating horticulture sector, Mufti Sayeed said, “Change won’t come unless fruit growers are convinced about rejuvenating their orchards by high-density farming.”
“This is a live demonstration of a model apple orchard from which we need to take inspiration,” he said while praising the huge effort put in by a private entrepreneur in raising the orchard and building a farmers’ consortium that has 3,000 members.
A young ‘techno-farmer’ with branded concept of Root2Fruit, Khurram has scientifically developed his orchard over 42 kanals with attractive rows of high-quality apple plants, with each carefully provided with four-wire trellis system, anti-hail net and a drip irrigation and fertigation unit. His orchard has started bearing fruit in a brief gestation period of just a little over 15 months. His variety includes Grannysmith, an apple with medicinal value most suited to diabetics. Under high-density farming, 200 root-stocks, presently imported from Europe, are planted over one kanal of land. With each tree yielding 18-19 kg high-quality apple, one kanal of land will produce 4-5 MT of fruit, which is a quantum jump over propagation of apples through traditional farming.