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Friday, September 22, 2023

Kashmir Walnut growers seek govt’s help


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Srinagar: Walnut production in Kashmir Valley has considerably decreased this year due to climate change, claim growers.

This year the harvesting of the dry fruit began a fortnight earlier and the production is less due to the unseasonal hot weather conditions and rainfall, Choudhary Danish who is a law student and whose forefathers were associated with the Walnut business at village Branwar told UNI.

Branwar in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district is known for producing best quality and high quantity of Walnut across the Kashmir valley every year.

However, unfavorable weather conditions this year scuttled the production to a great extent.

Danish complained that the growers are not getting good prices for the Walnuts in the market due to non availability of a Dry Fruit Zone or Mandi in Kashmir Valley.

He said that the growers after packing the Walnuts in boxes send them to Jammu Mandi where a kilogram is sold for just Rs 200 and the buyers export the same product for Rs 600-700.

“Last year some exporters from other states visited Branwar and purchased the walnuts at the orchards which enabled us to get a good price. But selling in Jammu Mandi is only profitable for the purchasers,” he added.

He said the exporters from outside purchase Walnuts according to their need and requirements and this process does not help the growers of the valley.

He urged the government to set up a dry fruit zone or Mandi in Kashmir Valley similar to the Fruit Mandi or Saffron so that Walnut and Almond growers could get the best price of their production.

“If we could have a dry fruit zone or mandi here in Kashmir valley the dealers can directly come and purchase and one could get a good price like other fruit growers,” he said.

He said that the growers cannot sell the Walnuts directly to outsiders for which they need export licenses.

Another grower Fayaz Ahmad also complained of less production this year due to unpleasant weather conditions.

He said if a tree produced 10 bags last year, this year it gave not more than four bags.

He said that the Walnuts of village Branwar are popular in shape and taste compared to the Walnuts of Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag districts of the Kashmir valley.

“We are packing the walnuts in 5 kg and 10 kg boxes and sending them to Jammu Mandi for sale where we could get only Rs 80 to 180 per kg which is very less,” he said.

Fayaz said an expert walnut collector charges Rs 1,500 per day for harvesting the nuts.

He said they are packing walnuts of a particular tree in boxes which are also called (One tree walnut) not a mix of so many trees to preserve the quality of the fruit.

For the past two years Kashmiri walnuts have seen a dip less in demand and the reason is that the government is not taking any initiative to highlight the fruit in the international market, Fayaz added.

“Unless we have a similar circuit or a Mandi for sale of dry fruit these cannot get the proper attention or price in the market,” the grower claimed.

He appealed to the Jammu and Kashmir Government to pay attention towards the Walnut growers and set up a Mandi in Kashmir Valley where they could sell them at good prices instead of going to Jammu.

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