Blessed with excellent agro-climatic conditions and topography, the frontier district of Kupwara in North Kashmir produces a variety of fresh and dry fruits which are sold locally and in outside Jammu and Kashmir markets.
As one of the main fruit-producing districts in the Union Territory, Kupwara’s rural economy is entirely dependent on the horticulture industry. Around four lakh people are directly or indirectly related to the horticulture business.
The district produces the highest number of walnuts in the Kashmir valley and this year recorded 30894 metric tonnes of the quality produce.
Chief Horticulture Officer (CHO) Kuwpara Muneer Ahmad told Rising Kashmir, “There is no doubt that the valley is widely producing walnuts, but, the frontier district is producing them in the highest quantity.”
He said that 8820 hectares of land is under walnut farming in the district. “In the current year, 30894 metric tonnes of walnut have been produced, which is the highest in any district.”
The walnuts are also produced in all districts of the valley, but the top production of walnuts comes from Kupwara, the officer added.
The border district has the potential to grow a number of walnut varieties. The major walnut growing areas of this region are Machil, Keran, Tangdar, Karalpora, Kupwara Tehsil, Mawer, Qaziabad, and adjoining areas. The people of these areas are making a good living from walnut cultivation.
Bashir Ahmad Reshi, a walnut grower, told Rising Kashmir that he has around 30 walnut trees in his native village. He stated that he is earning a good amount from the walnut.
“I also send my walnuts outside Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory where I fetch good rates.”
The department of horticulture is also planning to execute some schemes for farmers to increase the production and revenue of people associated with its cultivation. “The department provides a Rs 7.5 lakh subsidy to a farmer for developing a walnut nursery on four Kanals of land,” the CHO said.
“We are going to build a nursery at Keran and Machil on 35 and 20 Kanals of land respectively where the new variety ‘Chandler’ from California will be planted. In the next few years, the department will start grafting traditional walnut trees,” he added.
The officer stated that only five traditional trees are accommodated in one Kanal of land while 14 ‘Chandler’ trees will be accommodated on the same land. “This will increase walnut production,” he added.
Pertinently, about 2.66 lakh metric tonnes of walnuts are cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir, every year, on a land area of 89,000 hectares. More than 98 percent of the total walnuts cultivated in India, come from J&K.