Srinagar: Like apples, the almond crop also witnessed a drop in production this year due to the unfavourable weather conditions in the Kashmir valley.
These days, farmers are busy in their orchards harvesting almonds in Chadoora-Nagam on Char-e-Sharief Road in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, claiming that the plucking of almonds this year got delayed by a month due to weather vagaries.
“Almond production is reduced by 30 percent this year compared to last year. However, the production is satisfactory if compared to the past several years”, Ishfaq Yatoo, an orchardist in Charer-e-Sharief, told UNI.
He said that the production is less compared to last year. From 2014 to 2019, the production of almonds remained low due to weather vagaries and uncertain circumstances, and farmers could not concentrate much on their orchards, resulting in the production remaining very low.
“This year the production is satisfactory, and farmers are taking care of their orchards with the improvement in atmosphere that helps to get good production of the crop,” Yatoo said.
He said that this year, due to unfavourable weather conditions, the almond harvesting season got prolonged in the valley. The harvesting usually completes in the month of August, but we are still in the orchards collecting the crop in the September months, he added.
Yatoo said that they are selling almonds after removing the green hull by machines and by hand to the buyers here, who then export them later to other parts of the country and abroad.
He said that California almonds did not have any major effect on Kashmiri almonds so far as Kashmir’s almonds have their own taste and demand in the market. The Kashmiri almonds are in demand and are sold at good rates, he added.
Yatoo said a kg of paper almond, locally known as Kagzi,” was being sold to the buyer at Rs 255 and a second variety at Rs 150 per kg at the garden.
He said that farmers are not planting new almond trees, and they are day by day facing extinction.
“The government is not even providing any help or technology to expand the almond tree gardens in the valley”, he alleged, adding that “what has remained in the valley so far is only producing the crop; no fresh trees are being planted to expand the almond business”.
He said the farmers even sprinkle necessary pesticides at their own risk, and there is no known way of getting them from the government to save this crop.
Mostly people prefer to plant hybrid apple trees that are providing high crops and getting good prices in the market, he said.
An official of the Horticulture Department who did not want to be identified said that the farmers who are associated with the almond business are not being provided with any information about why this crop is facing extinction day by day in the valley.
He said that the government is providing subsidies to apple orchardists and providing all the know-how besides introducing hybrid apple trees that are yielding high production, and farmers are now planting apple trees instead of almonds.