Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Friday urged the fruit growers to shift to high-density orcharding to enhance apple production for greater economic returns on their yield. "Government will diversify horticulture by adopting newer techniques and best practices to survive the onslaught of emerging markets in and outside the country," Mufti said, after inaugurating the state's first-ever high-density apple orchard at Bamdoora in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.
The orchard has been set up by Khurram, a young Valley-based entrepreneur. Mufti, while handing out an assurance to fruit growers, who had gathered in large numbers at Model Apple Orchard, called upon farmers to join the pursuit of making Kashmir the 'fruit valley of the world'.
He said if only 20% of our orchards took up high-density farming over the next five years, the Rs 3,000-crore industry will expand five times to a staggering Rs 15,000 crore. Referring to the difficult times the Valley went through in the last 25 years of conflict, the chief minister credited the fruit growers in horticulture sector and craftsmen in the handicraft industry for sustaining the state's fledgling economy.
"J&K is on the cusp of a historic change and we will make its people equal partners in ushering in an era of peace and development," Mufti said. "People in this state have suffered a lot and deserve peace dividends in the form of sustained development and fair and accountable administration," Mufti said. Asking the people to feel the change happening on the ground, the chief minister said he had set his goals but preferred to achieve them silently. "It is not in my nature to fight. I don't like to win fights and lose friends," he stated.
A young 'techno-farmer' with branded concept of Root2Fruit, Khurram has scientifically developed his orchard over 42 kanals of land with attractive rows of high-quality apple plants, with each carefully provided with four-wire trellis system, anti-hail net and a drip irrigation and fertigation unit. His orchard has started bearing fruit in a brief gestation period of just a little over 15 months. His variety includes Grannysmith, an apple with medicinal value most suited to diabetics.
Under high-density farming, 200 root-stocks, presently imported from Europe, are planted over one kanal of land. With each tree yielding 18-19 kg high-quality apple, one kanal of land will produce 4-5 MT of fruit, which is a quantum jump over propagation of apples through traditional farming.