Growers switch to high-density apple farming, say it fetches good returns in less time

From 600 hectares currently, govt to bring 5,500 ha under this farming in next few years

The high-density apple farming is revolutionising this industry in J&K, with the demand for the plantation of such apples increasing with each passing day.Growers from various areas of the valley told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that after witnessing losses in the last few years due to multiple reasons, the high-density apple farming has brought back smiles on their faces as it fetched handsome amounts in the market.They said the new varieties of apples were introduced in Kashmir after 2015 and the best thing about them is that they start bearing fruits just a year after their plantation and reach full production in the 4th or 5th year.The traditional apple trees start bearing fruits at least ten years after plantation and are harvested in November. This at times causes growers to sustain damages due to untimely snowfall, but the high-density apples are harvested in August only and have facilities available to save them from hailstorms and other things.Mohammad Younis, who has high-density apples on around 8 kanals of land in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, said people have noticed the benefits of high-density apple farming. We have started cutting old traditional trees and are going for high-density apple farming as this requires low input cost and less labour cost, he said, adding that the quality of such apples is also high with uniformity in colour and size.Jeromine, King Roat, Gala Scarlet, Red Velox, Scarlet Spur-II, Super Chief, Redlum Gala and Auvi Fuji are some of these varieties grown in J&K currently.The growers said the high-density apples are fetching handsome amounts as compared to traditional varieties as the rates go around double as compared to traditional ones.“You don’t need to wait for decades to get fruit but on the very first year, high-density plants start bearing fruits with bumper crop every year. It also requires less fertilisers and pesticides,” Younis saidAzhar Anjum, an agriculture expert, said the high-density apples grown in J&K are quite similar to those grown in other countries but we lack grading skills. “We will be able to improve our grading as our apples can compete with those other countries. This industry will grow further here,” he said.“Our apples are the most delicious in the world but we are still using traditional ways of packing and grading due to which customers are preferring the apples from other countries that are packed smartly,” he said, adding, “We have been still using hay and other things in packing and using high-quality apples in upper layers while low quality and less shining apples in lower layers are creating problems for all.”Azhar added, “We need to learn to pack apples in small boxes or trays in a smart way that can be given as gifts on functions as well. If we are able to do so we can easily compete with apples from other countries and earn a livelihood very well.”The horticulture officials told KNO that around 600 hectares of land has been brought under high-density apple farming in J&K so far and the department is working to increase it to around 5,500 hectares in the next few years.They said the 50 percent subsidy is provided to orchardists who establish or switch to high-density fruit production.In September 2015, the then J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inaugurated the erstwhile State’s first-ever high-density apple orchard at Bamdoora in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.Kashmir on average produces over 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples every year, a figure that in some years touches 25 lakh metric tonnes.According to the 2017 economic survey in J&K, half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry and over 3.5 lakh hectares are under apple cultivation.Horticulture is an essential contributor to SGDP with a share of about 9.5 percent. About 8.50 crore man-days are generated through this sector in J&K every year

Leave a comment