High-density apple farming makes Kashmir farmers happy

High-density apple farming brings smiles back on faces of Kashmir farmers

According to government figures, Kashmir exports around 20 lakh metric tons of apple every year

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

After witnessing a slump for the last few years due to unseasonal, heavy snowfall, scab, low prices and multiple lockdowns, high-density apple farming has brought back smiles on the faces of apple farmers in Kashmir.

“High-density apple trees start bearing in the second year of planting and reach full production in the 4th year. These varieties were introduced at a right time in Kashmir as unseasonal heavy snowfall in 2018 and 2019 had uprooted thousands of apple trees,” said Waheed Ahmad, who has planted high-density apple trees on one hectare of land in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Ahmad says 80% of apple trees in his orchard were uprooted due to November 4, 2018, heavy snowfall and he had given up hopes of recovery. “A friend of mine told me about the high-density apple farming and there has been no looking back since then. A normal apple tree would take 10-15 years to grow properly and yield fruit, but now there is no such worry,” he said.

Apart from this, high-density plantations produce the highest ratio of A-Grade fruits which are qualitatively and price wise better. Ahmad said that the yield of high density is two to five times higher compared to the traditional varieties and consumes 70–80% less fertilizer and pesticides.

Mian Ghulam Naqshband from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district is another progressive farmer who has established a high-density orchard on a sprawling six acres of land in his native Baba Nagri village in Kangan.

Mian, a computer graduate with a penchant for entrepreneurship, believes that high-density plantation is the future. “It is as good as a top-notch corporate sector job. Until 2017, I was into my family business. Then I heard about high-density farming,” he said.

“High-density plantation gives farmers a return on investments within a period of three years. Besides, I don’t have to sell it anywhere, instead, the customers throng my farm. It is highly profitable,” Mian added.

A senior officer at SK University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in Srinagar says the cultivation of high-density apples has transformed the scenario of apple production in the world and is also expected to give a boost to the apple economy in Kashmir as well.

According to government figures, Kashmir exports around 20 lakh metric tons of apple every year, and the horticulture industry is pegged to be worth around 8000 to 9000 crore including the employment it generates. Kashmir produces 75% of the total apple production in the country.

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