Walnut production in Budgam district of Kashmir has dropped by 97% this year. Where thousands of tons used to be produced every day, only 250 tons of walnut have been produced in 2020. It has directly affected the employment of thousands of people.
According to Horticulture, climatic conditions have been the main factor of this which includes lack of rainfall and other natural calamities. Along with this, less marketing due to COVID-19 has added to the fall. Also, the export was more from other regions which caused a huge loss to the employees during festive season. Some people from North and Central Kashmir believe that the Government hasn’t focused enough on this matter. The production of apples has been prioritised more than that of walnuts which affects around 20-40,000 employees.
Syed Rouf said “Many factors have led to less production but the most important has been the negligible of the Government on this matter. People near Hakuma area converted their agricultural land to Horticulture and now again converting it back due to less interest of the Government. Other than this, less tourists and more apple trees than walnut in the plantation drive have added to the factors.”
“There’s a lot of difference between the press notes and working on ground. Awareness camps are organised where they educate people 1-2 times a year about growth in production. Right now a summit is going on in Dubai which a team of Commissioner Secretary of Horticulture is attending. A discussion about making the food from Kashmir reach the International market is going on. But the question is when will it happen as the walnuts and almonds of Kashmir are quite famous among the outsiders. But I feel that now the its value has decreased and people do this business only to handle some house expenditures.” He added.
9,585 tons of walnut dropped to 250 tons this year. People said that the Government should have taken measurable steps as everything could not be dependent on climatic factors. Not only walnut but almond production has also reduced this year.
The farmers need to be educated about their loss and maintenance by the Horticulture department. The preservation, boosting the production and then the marketing – these steps must be taken care by the Department officials. The farmers must channelise and then make their production reach the International market.