Almond’s fail to satiate growers taste
‘From 16,775 hectares in 2001, land under almond orchards shrinks to 3630 hectares’
Pulwama: The production of almonds is decreasing at an alarming rate as hundreds of kanals of the land have been cleared off almond trees with people preferring to grow apples in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
The farmers are converting more and more land into apple orchards every year and in many areas farmers have cut down almond trees entirely to start apple cultivation.
Hundreds of kanals of land have been cleared off from almond trees in Renzipora, Koil, Chandgam, Payar, Lajoora, Wasoora,Yader, Malangpora areas of Pulwama.
A local from Chandgam area told ‘Kashmir Vision’ that only three to five percent of land is under almond cultivation and the rest has been converted into apple orchards
In coming few year, there will be no traces of almond trees as every year almond trees are being cleared off from hundreds of kanals of land and is being converted into apple orchards, he said.
Reyaz Ahmad Pall, a social activist from Wasoora area said that “Our karewas are suitable for almond cultivation but farmers are turning their land into apple cultivation as it gets good price in the market. It stands the duty of horticulture department to show up and ask people how to increase almond production but no technical guidance is given to farmers.”
“Like every year, this year also farmers used JCB dozers to uproot almond trees because almonds cultivation has become very less productive and beneficial to them,” he added.
In Tral area of the district, the areas which were known for the production of quality almonds are also turning up to apple production.
In main Tral, Shaldraman, Kahlil, ChaanKitar, Paribal and others areas, farmers have cleared off whole almond trees and have started cultivating apple trees.
A local from Tral area said that all marketing, grading and packing facilities have been developed by government for Apple trees but no focus is being provided to dry fruits, which lured farmers to turn to Apple cultivation.
As per official figures, the land under almond orchards was 16,775 hectares in year 2001-02 while as it was only 6, 973 hectares in 2014-15.
“From 6973 hectares in year 2014-15, it has reduced to only 3630 hectares in year 2017-18 which shows at which speed land under almond trees is reducing,” he said.
An official in horticulture department said that foreign almond in the market has downed the value of local almond due to which farmers are choosing other fruits.
“Diseases have also affected the almond production as department failed to control the disease properly, he said while adding that if the trend of cutting almond trees continues within 4 to 5 years south Kashmir will be without a single almond tree,” he said.
Another officer of horticulture department said that it is comparative high price and market demand of apples which turns people to shun the almonds. “We can’t stop any body from clearing almond trees and from starting apple cultivation as there is no government order in this regard,” he said, adding that the only to prevent more cutting of almond trees is to ban cutting of almond tree as it is for walnut tree and to check the diseases properly.