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  • Almond cultivation declines across Kashmir

    Sep 17th, 2017

    Kashmir- known for producing quality almonds is losing this delicious fruit alarmingly as a huge land under its cultivation has been converted to apple orchards.In Kashmir, almond is mostly grown in Budgam and parts of Srinagar and Ganderbal district where the farmers have started moving to apple cultivation over almond due to less turnout and persisting inclement climate conditions.Data available says that the Budgam district alone has lost as much as 5665 hectares of almond land in 2015.In district Budgam villages more than half of the population has converted their almond orchards to apple crop in past four years.The growers say that the low turnout was the driving force behind the mass conversion of almond orchards into apple crop.“Some two or three years ago our village would produce as much as 600 quintal of almond which has been now reduced to 300 quintals. Almonds don’t fetch enough revenue here now while fruit like apple is proving more beneficial for growers. We over the years have seen that a huge number of growers have converted their land into apple orchards,” Manzoor Ahmad, a grower said.Same is the condition with the other villages in Budgam district where apple is alarmingly replacing almond cultivation.Growers cite that the changing weather condition was unfavourable for producing quality almonds in the region.

    “We have seen that Kashmir no more receives timely rains and further the summers are also hot which again hit our almond production. A farmer can’t bear losses for years together and people see conversion to apple cultivation as a better option now,” Bahsir Ahmad another grower said.Similarly in Srinagar district, data suggests that the district has lost 48 per cent of the land under almond crop and the produce has got declined by 58 metric tonnes during 2014 year.In Pulwama district hundreds of kanals in Koil, Payar, Chandigam, Lajoora, Pahnard, Pachnargd and Thokernag villages have been converted to other crops.“We have been witnessing two consecutive bad years. In 2014, the flood wreaked havoc and last year Kashmir received heavy rains which further damaged our crop. Now almond cultivation is no more a lucrative business,” Arshid Ahmad a local from Lajoora village told over phone.The almond production from past five years has been fluctuating drastically. The land under almond cultivation was recorded as 15,350 hectares in 2014 which now has reduced to 6,981 hectares.

    An official from Agriculture Department admitted that the almond production in Kashmir has declined drastically.He said that the tough competition from outside coutry’s like Iran had brought down the markets for Kashmiri almonds.“Basically we over the years have seen a huge flow of almond from other countries to valley markets. Further due to inclement weather condition the quality of almond has also declined. Now farmers at many places had preferred apple over almond crop with the result its production has declined,” he said.