A Brief Note on Horticulture Industry
Challenges and Remedies
Information on Walnut Industry
Challenge & Remedies
Jammu & Kashmir State
MUKHTAR AHAMD KHAN
Assistnat Grading Marketing Officer
A Brief Note on Horticulture by
Horticulture Industry Challenges & Remedies
Horticulture in Kashmir is facing twin challenges, one from the climatic front and the other from the free movement of imports from different countries.
But we as marketing people have to accept this challenge and divert our energy to neutralise the affect by persuasion process. We cannot seal the borders but we can seize the opportunity by improving the quality of our product to give befitting reply to the free trade dogma.
Nature has endowed Kashmir with innumerable gifts, its towering snow clad mountains, bubbling streams, transparent and sparkling lakes, flower meadows, colorful orchards and rare fauna have always attracted numerous tourists from all corners of the world.
The age-old traditional fruit cultivation has profusely colored the serenity and tranquillity of Kashmir’s landscape. Kashmir, the land of fauna, flora and fruits possesses a rich history of fruit cultivation.
Years before the time of warrior King ‘Lalita Ditya’ and though the golden periods of benevolent kings like ‘Awantiwaraman’ and Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin ‘Badshah’, Kashmir has remained the symbol of fruits and flowers.
The horticulture industry in Kashmir has become the bulwark of rural economy in the state. This industry earns a revenue of over Rs. 50 crores yearly approximately and provides job facilities to the thousands of people directly and indirectly.
We have rich varieties of fruits and if timely interceptions are not incorporated in our working given known the challenges we are in, due to opening of ports from different countries, to pitch their produce against the fruits of Kashmir.
It is a hard fact that growers from developed countries have access to quality inputs with standardisation of grading and packing, which to some extend are not available to our growers.
Either our growers do not have the standard inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilisers or if available professional guidance as how and when to apply the inputs, does not come easily at their door steps.
Whole marketing setup needs a change since whatever has been there since the inception of establishment of horticulture department needs overhauling so that we guide our growers in such a way so that their produce have a edge over the quality of imports being thrusted into the domestic market.
The rich variety on which stress needs to be invested includes the below mentioned one’s.
Lawrence describes it as “the most popular apple in Kashmir ——- a sweet fruit ripening in October and keeping its condition for a long time and finding favour with the natives of India for its sweetness and its handsome appearance.
Ambri is indigenous to Kashmir and continues to enjoy superiority by virtue of its crisp, sweet flesh and excellent aroma. The fruit is blushed red, striped, medium-sized and oblong to conical in shape with longer storage life. The fruit matures in the last week of September to first week of October.
It is an excellent dessert variety. This variety has crisp juicy, greenish white and sweet flesh and is usually medium-sized, as a result of which it has become very popular with consumers. Oblate-shaped, blushed and patchy red with a smooth surface, it matures in the last week of September. A good dessert variety but of late the variety is at the verge of extinction and no steps have been initiated by SKUAST-K to protect it.
Delicious (Red Delicious) A world-renowned variety. It is one of the most widely grown apples. The fruit is tapering in shape with characteristic five lobes at the apex. Skin is smooth, striped and blushed red. Flesh is fine grained, greenish white, sweet, very juicy and crisp with good aroma. Size is medium to large and it matures by the end of September. A good dessert variety.
Hazaratbali (Benoni) A medium-sized apple with rounds to slightly conical in shape and red to striped skin; white juicy and sweet flesh. It is the earliest variety of apple available from the valley, maturing in mid-July. Nakh Kashmiri (Chinese Sandy Pear) This variety gets its name from grained flesh. A conical shaped, small to medium sized variety with crisp, white and juicy flesh. The skin is thick and green in color that turns yellow on ripening. Carries well in storage and is an excellent dessert variety.
Gilas Double This variety is large-sized and attractive with cream-red color. The flesh is firm and juicy but slightly acidic. A good keeper; excellent for canning, and dessert purposes.
Gilas Misri Large sized and red colored; its skin is firm and flesh is sweet and juicy. A good dessert variety.
Walnut is considered to be the “brain food” and Kashmiri Walnut is considered to be the best in world. The pure quality and amazing nutritious values of Walnuts makes it the most popular among dry fruits. Fruit medium to above medium, pointed, halves accuminate. Skin thick, downy, yellow base with scattered red patches. Flesh firm, creamy yellow, moderately juicy, sweet with acidic blend when fully ripe. Free stone. The fruit is ready for harvest in 3rd week of August. But due to imports from China and other countries it has got a dent in the marketing scenario outside the state. A detail report enclosed at Annexure-A.
Since Governor had already directed to constitute an expert committee to locate means and measures for the upliftment of walnut industry, so to suggest short and long term measures for advancement of walnut and kernel. It is surprising that walnut is produced in Kashmir but scientific methods for grading and packing is not available in Kashmir but to some extend it is available at Jammu wherefrom fruit is exported.
Kashmiri saffron is considered as the king of the saffron species where it has been grown in the fields of Pampore near Srinagar for close to 2500 years. Kashmiri Saffron is valued all over the world for its fine quality and a large part of the saffron produced in Kashmir is exported to various countries. Fruit medium, from oblong to rather ovate, slightly irregular in shape. Cavity rather deep to medium in depth, regular and acute. Skin yellow when fresh (brown yellow when dried) sweet, moderately flavored, stone free kernel sweet. Ready for picking in the last week of June.
Strawberry Fruit medium, roundish, regular, skin smooth and thin flesh deep red, juicy, sweet and soft full of aroma, stone cling type.
In order to save our fruit industry we have to visit the battle grounds of orchids and educate our growers about the latest technologies which if applied can ensure production of quality fruit and at the same time it’s enhancement of shelf life.
A grower has to be educated that orthodox type of business has not yielded them anything now they have to incorporate entrepreneurship in their day to day activities in the fields to enhance and increase their net worth.
Most important attention needs to be invested in application of quality inputs in consultation with experts of horticulture so that whatever further energy our growers Invests gets rewarded accordingly in postharvest phase.
Growers need to be guided in post harvest phase in the sense as techniques to harvest fruit is the catch word for better returns, Simple injury can damage the shelf life of the produce.
Pre cooling is very important factor to maintain the marketability of any produce and if necessary arrangement under technology mission need to be explored so that atleast one pre cooling facility is made available in a village
Our department need to move away from the establishments of Satellite markets terminal markets apni mandies for the time being and stress for the proper grading and packing of fruit
If we are successful in this venture we could be called the real marketing tools and which can ultimately percolate into something good for the industry, thus can be a good initiative for contribution and protection of our fruits industry from the onslaught of free imports.
Previously only imports would be allowed from Mumbai but now all the ports of India have been opened to throw a marketing challenge for the fruit industry of Kashmir.
The Government decision to relax import restrictions on apples through various sea ports in the country is likely to hit Kashmir apple industry with local stakeholders here claiming the move will cause a whopping Rs 400 crore loss to the Valley.
The government of India earlier used to allow import of apples through only one sea port of Maharashtra, but now it has decided to allow inbound shipments of the fruit through sea ports and airports in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin. It has also permitted imports from land port and airport in Delhi besides land borders.
The move as per the fruit dealers would have a serious impact on the Kashmir apple industry.
“On an average State export apples worth Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 crore to outside state. The decision of the central government will badly affect our apple trade and would reduce our turnover by a huge margin.
To cap the issue we need to reach out to the growers for taking steps to improve and enhance production on scientific lines. Apart from adopting new technology to enhance the yield in the already grown old varieties of apple, steps need to be taken to make available the high yielding plantation of high density so that growers have a competitive edge on the burgeoning imports from different sources.
To start with we may motivate the fruit growers to shift to high-density orcharding to enhance apple production for greater economic returns on the fruit . Government will definitely need to travel a extra mile., and create a easy way for the growers to diversify horticulture by adopting newer techniques and best practices to survive the onslaught of emerging markets in and outside the country,
The orchard which been set up by an individual prospective entrepreneur at Bamdoora , Qazigund, could be turned into a sample field to educate our growers so that steps in right directions are at least started for giving a initiative so that steps are taken for making Kashmir the ‘fruit valley of the world’.
It is only the viable preposition to make further progress in the industry since we need to appreciate the affords whatever our growers have made during the trying times of uncertainty which made it possible for sustaining the state’s fledgling economy.
A young ‘techno-farmer’ with branded concept of Root2Fruit, 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.
The orchard in question has started bearing fruit in a brief gestation period of just a little over 15 months. The variety include Grannysmith,an apple with medicinal value most suitable for diabetes.
Under high-density farming, lot of Root stocks, presently imported from Europe, are planted over one kanal of land in the demonstration plant in Qazigund 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.
If a private enterprise can contribute so much for the high yielding plantation why we can not propose the government to duplicate the same scheme under its control so that progressive growers who are looking for the same can get benefited.
It is also a fact that packing plays an important role and our department has been propagating the use of cardboard carton but it has not been fully accomplished due to cost constraints.
If govt takes steps to subsidise the packing we may motivate growers further to switch over to modern packaging.
Our department could be a suitable outlet for such schemes if our idea is purchased by the govt .
Earlier apples from foreign countries like USA, China, Chile, Afghanistan, Iran, etc., were imported only through Nhava Sheva port in Maharashtra. “That was not a big threat for us. But now government has opened all ports and airports which means foreign apples will be cheaper than ours as a result of which our trade will be drastically hit.
It is also a fact that due to centre government’s decision, Kashmir apple sector is estimated to suffer a loss Rs 400 crore as the rate of apples has reduced much to the dismay of growers Apple is the most heavily consumed imported fruit in India. India is world’s third-largest producer of apples. Apple production in the country is limited to the hilly states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand .
If we cannot protect our fruit industry how can we sell our idea of network of mandies for the same.
We need to be partners for change and get the marketing act implemented in totality, in the state so that our field staff have a full control on the quality of produce which can only be possible when we have authority to check despatches randomly while being sent outside.
At the same time we have to be proactive in the fields and work side by side with growers and provide them all means to make this happen by periodically conduct graders training camps at gross root levels.
Our department has to create a role for making available quality inputs and at the same time keep Krishi Vigyan Kendra ( SKUAST-K) in the loop and allow growers to get wherewithal about pre and post harvest techniques for the temperate fruits to enhance acceptability in the market.
Imports are not posing any threat but they are providing chance to improve our crop.
No. 101/HPM/AGMO/QZD/2016-17/164-68 Dated: 01-04-2016
M. A. Khan
Deputy Director Horticulture Planning & marketing, Jammu & Kashmir Government for favour of information. I as a marketing personal reached out to a conclusion that unless and until we are not in a position to educate our small and marginal growers regarding the latest technologies we may fail to deliver our official obligations, given known the fact that imports from different countries have started impacting our marketing setup.
Area Marketing Officer , Anantnag for favour of information.
Area Marketing officer, Kulgam for information.
Area Marketing officer, Pulwama for information.
Continue..Horticulture Industry Challenges & Remedies
Walnut Industry of Jammu & Kashmir State
Challenges and Remedies
Walnut (Juglans regia L), rich in nutritious substances and various microelement, is one of important economic species in the world of family Juglandaceae. The genus Juglans L. (Juglandaceae) consist of 7 to 45 species depending on the taxonomic study.Walnut, Juglans regia, is called by different names in different parts of India. The most common vernacular name for walnut in the region is akhrot, but other names are also known, such as dun in Kashmir and khod in parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In India, walnut production was earlier confined to Jammu & Kashmir and it appears that it spread to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand states of the country. Some limited variability may also exist in eastern and north-eastern regions, viz., Darjeeling, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. It flourishes in temperate belts h at an altitude of 900-3500 msl. The tree normally grows well in cool climates that is free from frost during spring but does not thrive in areas with hot summers.
The production of a good quality walnut crop is, however, dependent on altitude, temperature fluctuations and humidity/moisture during the main fruit development stage. Frost or snow during flowering destroys young flowers and new shoots, thereby affecting crop production. Walnut productions are light demanding species and are drought tolerant. Normally, an evenly distributed annual rainfall of 760 mm is considered to be optimum for a good quality crop. Walnut plants start flowering in February and continue until April, depending upon the elevation. Flowering occurs earlier at lower elevations. Shell hardening begins in the middle of June, and harvesting starts from the middle of August and continues until the end of October. Fruits are harvested from the trees once the endocarp splits and the first fruit begins to shed. Nuts are collected from the ground between the months of September and October in Jammu & Kashmir. After collecting nuts, these are cleaned, washed and dried by spreading them on sheets or floor. Sometimes in order to improve the appearance of nuts, these are bleached with either alkali or acid solution. Nuts which fall down with their husks intact are generally second-grade. After removal of the husks, cleaning and drying, they are stored and marketed separately to fetch a higher price. Delay in drying causes rapid loss in nut quality and makes walnuts susceptible to the mold. Drying of nuts stabilizes the product’s weight and prolongs storage life. Therefore, September-October is found to be the best time for colleting nuts. The best time for collecting bud sticks for grafting is January-February. Walnut production involves fewer losses in pre harvesting and post harvesting stages as compared to other crops such as apple. Walnut is less perishable by nature and easy to handle/transport from one place to another. The walnuts produced at altitudes of 1500 m and above are considered of superior quality, with a light-coloured kernel and a characteristic thin shell. At lower elevations, the kernel usually turns brown because of high temperatures at the time of ripening.
AREA AND DISTRIBUTION
Around 30,800 hectares is under walnut cultivation in the country, with the annual production at 36,000 tonnes. The domestic and external demand has been increasing over the years and is projected to 75,000 tonnes by 2020. Therefore, it is necessary to bring additional area to meet the projected demand. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is the major producer of walnuts in India, infact, the entire quantity of walnuts the country exports is from J&K state. In this northwestern area of the country, walnuts are grown all over the Kashmir valley and the hill regions of Jammu. The most important districts for walnut cultivation are Anantnag, Pulwana, Kupwara, Budgam, Baramulla and Srinagar. In Jammu, the largest areas under walnut cultivation are Doda district, followed by Poonch and Udhampur, with minor quantities grown in Rajouri and Kathua districts. Walnut production is very common is kishtwar district especially in tehsil Chattroo of kishtwar district. The area under overall dry fruits which includes Almond, Pecanut and Walnut is 112400 hectares in Jammu and Kashmir and area under walnut is 95601 hectares which means 85.05% of area under dry fruits is under the cultivation of walnut. In Kashmir region only the area under horticulture is 72431 hectares and under walnut production it is 56721 hectares, thus area under dry fruits is more in Kashmir region than in Jammu region. Among all districts in Kashmir region district Anantnag has highest acreage under walnut cultivation 16524 hectares followed by district Budgam 14562 hectares followed by Pulwama district 10918 hectares. In Jammu region district Poonch has highest area 8306 hectares under cultivation followed by district Doda 6616 hectares. So far as production of walnut is concerned it is mainly cultivated in in Anantnag 16163 hectares followed by district Kupwara 8463 hectares. In Jammu region it is 215 hectares highest in Doda district followed by Kishtwar district 64 hectares. Productivity is higher in Kashmir region than in Jammu division. Productivity of walnut is highest in district Baramulla 4.498863 ton/ha followed by district Kulgam 3.98693 ton/ha in Kashmir region. Productivity is higher in Kashmir region than in Jammu division. It is highest in Doda district 1.663525 ton/ha followed by district reasi 1.647861 tonn/ha in Jammu region. In Ladakh region, Leh has highest productivity of 2.22449 tonn/ha.
NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL USES
Walnuts are rich in proteins, fat, minerals and are concentrated source of energy with high essential unsaturated fatty acids such as the a linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acid. These contain a good amount of Vitamin B group and are the richest in vitamin B6 among all the nuts.Walnuts are rich in amino acids (glutamic acid, arginine and leucine) particularly sulfured one-taurine (2-aminoethylsulfonic acid) is important as it is involved in many functions of homeostatic regulation, thermoregulation, anti-aging, nervous conduction and protection against oxidative stress. It is extensively used for cooking oil in tribal areas of the region, with hard-shelled walnuts mostly used for this purpose. Walnut is reported to enhance appetite, promote blood circulation and keep the skin delicate. Walnut bark and nut hulls are used as ingredients in naturopathic remedies. Today walnut and its products are being promoted for treating a variety of skin ailments (ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, psoriasis, eczema, wounds) constipation, internal parasites and it has been recommended as a gargle to soothe sore throat.
In rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir, many of families are totally dependent upon the walnut cultivation but due to existence of chain of intermediaries, the producers are not getting their due prices. Not only that walnut production adds to income of poor in rural areas but also that walnuts have been important source of nutrition for the poor. In Jammu and Kashmir farmers earn to the tune of Rs. 20000 to Rs. 50000 annually from horticulture; 60 % of people are in this income bracket. 25% of people earn income in the range of Rs. 150000 to 20000, 10% of people earn Rs. 10000 to 15000. And only 5 % of people derive income ranging from Rs. 5000 to 10000. No single family has income less than 50000. It means majority rural people in Jammu and Kashmir earn income in range of Rs. 15000 to 50000 annually. Although the income of this range may appear very less but keeping in view the overall income of these people and share of income from horticulture, the economic dependence of these people on horticulture can be gauged (Kumar,2015). According to a study, walnut orchard can provide permanent green cover to the soil. The gross return on walnut comes round Rs. 3 lakh per hectare. This is based on the yield of 1500 kg per hectare and farm price of Rs. 200 per kg. After deducting the farm expenses assumed to be 40 percent of the gross return, the net income of the farmer comes to be Rs. 1.80 lakh per hectare. According to the reports the walnuts are selling at more than Rs. 300 a kilogram and the walnut kernels between Rs. 400/ to Rs 500/ kilogram presently in outside mandi. The fruit has excellent flavour and is mainly consumed as a dry fruit. Commercially, it is used for preparation of bakery products, chocolates, ice-creams, oils, confectionary and salad products. Immature fruits of walnut can be utilized for preparing various products like pickles, chutneys, fresh juices and syrups. Shells are used in glue, plastics and for making solutions for cleaning and polishing surfaces. Walnut has both alimentary and industrial uses. Walnut hull is used to dye fabrics for rugs and dresses. Old walnut trees are felled with permission and the wood is used for making furniture and exquisite walnut wood carved items. This wood carving is an industry in Kashmir and about 9000 to 10000 people survive because of this activity only. Walnut wood carving items are exported to Europe, America and Gulf.
Most of the trees in Jammu & Kashmir are of seedling origin and no standard variety is generally grown here, though Sheri-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST-K) has released two walnut cultivars, Hamadan and Sulaiman, having high yield potential and shelling percentage. Introduction of other varieties like Lake English, Drainovsky and Opex Caulchry have also been found promising. Mainly three varieties of walnuts are grown in the state. These varieties are locally called WONTH, KAGAZI AND BURZUL. The Wonth is a hard Nut to crack and has thick and large outer shell and small kernel. It is mostly sold locally and used for extracting oil. The Kagzi is a better sized walnut and has thin outer shell but thick and good sized inner kernel. one can crack Kagzi in hands only . The inner kernel of the Kagzi variety is white. The Burzul is a medium size variety a little dark and with a little thicker outer shell. The inner kernel is not so white but tasty. This walnut too breaks easily. It is presently acid washed to make it look like Kagzi. The walnuts produced in Jammu usually have a thicker shell and are sold in local markets under the name pahari. On the basis of packaging, the walnuts are divided into two categories, bag and box quality. Thin-shelled kagzi walnuts are usually brought to market in wooden boxes and baskets. Nuts with thicker shells are usually transported in bags. In terms of taste, Kashmir walnuts are considered superior but the variations in the colour and size of the crop are not favourable attributes. In-shell walnuts for export are graded and sold under marketing rules set in 1966. Those of a minimum size of 32 mm, a good cracking rate of over 90 percent and the fewest internal defects are assigned the grade designation of India Super-special. Nuts with a minimum size of 30 mm are designated India-Special and nuts of 24-26 mm are graded India I and India B-grade. Strangely Walnut grading units are mostly located in Jammu wherefrom the Kernel is exported to Europe, America and other countries.
Most plantations are of seedling origin and are in scattered form which produces nuts of variable quality. Because of its breeding characteristics, walnut has formed abundant genetic diversities through a long term evolution under complicated environment. Breeders over the years have exploited the variation amongst these seedling trees to select superior genotypes with desirable traits. Besides, improved cultivars were introduced from other countries and after evaluation, some recommendations have been made. On the whole, walnut has remained a low priority crop in otherwise apple dominated regions.
An ideal walnut variety must have late leafing, both terminal and lateral bearing, low incidence of pistillate flower abscission, high yielding nuts (>6 MT/ha) with jambo size, relatively smooth, >50% kernel recovery, plump and light coloured kernel and at least moderately resistant to pest and diseases.Scientists from different parts of world have practiced simple selection in the natural seed population and selected trees of high nut quality.
Due to poor profitability of traditional crops, people are now shifting towards cultivation of horticulture crops as these crops has helped many of the people to come out of poverty and educate their children. Among horticulture crops walnut is very important as cultivation of walnut requires less skill and more of protection and safeguards? of crops and plants. The walnuts are drought tolerant and can be cultivated even if proper irrigation is not available although the amount of irrigation has an impact on the productivity of walnut. Presently production of walnut in India is around 1.2 tonnes per hectare which is very low in comparison to 3-5 tonne/hectare in advanced countries. India exports 2,665.87 MT walnut to more than 40 nations with earnings of more than 136.45 crores of foreign exchange annually. The top importers of Indian walnut include Egypt, UK, China, Germany, France, Netherlands, UAE, Greece, US, Kuwait, Australia, Hong Kong and Spain.
Indian walnut consumption in 2014-15 is expected to grow eight percent to 28,000 MT due to stable supplies and strong domestic demand. Presently, an estimated 50 to 60 percent of Indian walnut supplies are consumed domestically, of which nearly half are consumed during the festive season. Industry sources estimate that upwards of 10 percent of domestic consumption is by the bakery, confectionary, and ice cream industries. An additional three to four percent of walnuts (typically nuts that are already rancid) are used by soap and cosmetic manufacturers, who extract the oil for use in their various products.
Due to growing domestic consumption, coupled with a decline in domestic production, exports of Indian walnuts decreases. Additionally, tighter domestic supplies encouraged walnut imports, which are forecast at 1,000 MT. As the United States is the only country which currently meets India’s quarantine requirements, U.S. walnuts are likely to be exclusively imported. Walnuts are imported into India without quantitative restrictions under the Open General License (OGL) program. Imports are subject to an effective import duty of 30.9 percent except for imports originating from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries and Afghanistan. Earlier, most of the walnut growing areas were either remote or tribal, and marketing was difficult. Now, with the availability of better communications and road networks, marketing to cities can be done easily. Walnut is a nonperishable commodity and has good storability. It can therefore be transported easily to distant places, including for export.
Significant increases in walnut production can be expected in Jammu & Kashmir where local selections and new cultivars are being evaluated which will require expanded market development. Those engaged in production research must become more closely aligned with the processing and marketing industry to ensure that the quality aspects of walnuts are considered in relation to commercial demand and processing technology. Crop improvement related to higher yield, high number of fruitful lateral, precocity, late leafing, early harvesting, reduce tree size, self-fertile and homogamy are desired. Which is difficult through breeding process and will take long time for achieving the desired results. Therefore researchers are exploiting the local genepool for walnut improvement through selection. Smooth shell texture, light colour, round to oblong in shape, paper shell, strong shell seal, high kernel-shell ratio, plump, bold, easy to remove kernel halves, light in colour, sweet in taste, well filled kernels are some of the good chracteristics for walnut improvement, to boost the export of produce and compete in the international market. Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture, J&K has developed different varieties among these promising one are CITH Walnut 1, CITH Walnut 2, CITH Walnut 3, CITH Walnut 4, CITH Walnut 5, CITH Walnut 6, CITH Walnut 7, CITH Walnut 8, CITH Walnut 9, CITH Walnut 10. Similarly SKUAST- K Shalimar, Kashmir, Srinagar has also recently released two selections Hamdan, Sulaiman. These promising varieties has revolutionized the walnut production in Jammu and Kashmir. These varieties can compete in the national and international market.
Latest techniques of walnut budding/grafting have been introduced which have helped in reducing gestation period of this crop. With assistance of APEDA, a Hi-Tech Green House has been set up at different locations at Jammu & Kashmir which is being used for raising budded/grafted walnuts. Walnut cultivation plays a significant role in the economic profile of the farmers living in hilly and backward areas, where economic condition of the people is extremely fragile.
Walnut growing suffers from lack of suitable methods of propagation, inadequate vegetatively propagated plants, lack of standard rootstocks/ cultivars, problems of re-establishment of nursery plant in the orchard, specific climatic requirements, pollination behaviour and lack of suitable pollinizers, long juvenile period and harvesting. Long gestation periods, poor orchard management, and uneven yields (estimated at 18-50 kg/tree/year with nut sizes varying from 24-32 mm) keep walnut production relatively stagnant.
While conducting the fieldwork for study of genetic diversity of walnut growing areas of Jammu, it was observed that the naturally occurring populations are declining at a fast rate, with few new plantations of known genotype. Cutting of walnut trees for timber and furniture is very common. In Kashmir, walnut is highly valued for making furniture and considerable quantities of wood are being cut and smuggled for this purpose. The trees producing hard shelled nuts are under more threat than thin shelled types because the returns earned after cutting one full grown tree for timber purpose are much higher than income obtained through collection and sale of nuts (over a period of 15 to 20 years). Low productivity due to lack of high quality planting material, poor pollination, low tree density per unit area, predominant terminal bearing, long juvenile period, big tree size, poor filling, poor success rate of grafting, and climatic fluctuations were found to be responsible for limited initiatives for replanting walnut. Seedling derived walnuts commence fruiting at the age of 10 to 15 years, but economic production only commences once trees are quite old (20 to 25 years). Therefore, farmers do not get any income during the non fruiting years. Poor regeneration is also found due to excessive collection of nuts. Further, walnut oil is also used for cooking and people used traditional methods for oil extraction. Therefore even hard shelled nuts are not left to regenerate rather they are preferred for this purpose. Thin shelled nuts were also found to be damaged by birds and monkeys at a premature stage. Birds in these areas make a hole with their long beak and eat away the kernel, without even detaching the nut from the tree. In some areas, farmers are reluctant to share germplasm of good nut morphotypes. Some of the farmers in Dachan and Marwah have very good quality walnut trees in their cultivated lands, but refused to supply walnut samples and bud sticks to the programme for walnut, even when offered payment. People of kishtwar district are predominately engaged in agriculture and walnut production but to lack of proper irrigation facilities and also due to uneconomical holdings the productivity of crops is very low. Walnut in hilly areas are of J&K is mainly concentrated in rural areas where the large majority of under privileged groups and poor farmers. Walnut production has been an important source of income to these people. These borrow money from village money lenders. These people also take goods from the nearby retailers and repay them in time of harvest in the form of walnut produce. By taking advantage of abject poverty of these masses, money lenders and retailers buy these walnuts at fewer prices than they should in view of the market trend. Whatever is produced is not even sufficient to meet their own needs. Apart from these, there are several post-harvest problems in this sector. Constraints in walnut trade include awareness of maturity indices, method of harvesting and non-scientific dehulling.
Lack of storage facility, drying, grading practices
Lack of awareness about hygienic protocols condition to handle nuts
Lack of integrated handling system to manage the nuts
Non-adoption of international standards on grades
Lack of processing, storage and orchard management facilities
Increased competition from overseas suppliers.
External competition from California, Mexico, China and other countries which are competing with India especially in the EU market
India at present lags behind China and the United States in walnut production, “Unlike apple orchards, growers don’t have regular walnut orchards in Jammu & Kashmir. Scientists at Jammu and Kashmir’s agriculture universities are working to make India one among world’s top walnut producers. They believe that once the Jammu & Kashmir will have regular walnut orchards on the pattern of apple orchards, the production will increase manifold within five years. On the advice of the agriculture universities of Jammu & Kashmir the growers have begun developing walnut orchards along the lines of those in the United States, China and other countries. With most trees being 100 to 150 years old, the Agriculture University along with the state’s Horticulture department is also encouraging fresh walnut plantation.
The Jammu & Kashmir have vast scope of expansion of area under walnut by establishing regular orchards like apple, by providing farmers good quality disease free planting material, by establishing nurseries and mother orchards of lateral bearing high yielding varieties. The walnut growers also have to come forward united in a form of walnut grower associations to formulate strategy with government to get incentives under some scheme or mission. The cultivation and production of walnut will certainly improve the nutrition status, employment and economy of the rural farmers of Jammu & Kashmir.To bring more area under walnut cultivation in cluster mode, state should adopt end-to-end approach involving production, protection, post harvest management, processing and marketing. To achieve this goal, the Pomology Department of SKUAST-K has started distributing thousands of hybrid grafted walnut plants among the growers. “Besides, distribution of walnut plants, they also provide technical assistance to the growers. So far saplings of Hamdan and Suleiman varieties have been distributed among the growers. Scientists claim that the Hamdan and Suleiman varieties are better in quality than Chandlar, Serr, Tutle varieties grown in the United States.
In Jammu & Kashmir the seedling populations exhibit tremendous genetic variation in tree and phenological traits, colour, shell sealing and in hardness of nuts as well as quality and percentage of kernel. The endemic walnut varieties contain many agronomically excellent properties and specific valuable genes, such as for high content of protein, and strong disease and drought resistances, which have significant potential value for walnut variety improvement (Sharma and Kumar., 1994). Therefore, systematic evaluation of this genetically diverse germplasm needs to be taken up immediately for selecting superior genotypes to build gene repository. Fortunately the selection for most of the traits, being highly heritable, can be accomplished easily. However, in the past decade, under long-term biological or environmental pressure, the walnut resources have been seriously damaged, which may result in increased homogeneity or reduction of genetic variability. The lack of systematic studies of genetic diversity among Juglans species and ecotypes could seriously restrict genetic improvement by limiting exploitation in walnut culture and breeding of many excellent traits found in these landrace lines. Accordingly, it is essential to properly characterize and assess the genetic diversity of landrace walnut resources for protection and breeding utilization.
Walnut collections made in these regions may hold significant opportunities for obtaining germplasm with desirable traits such as improved cold hardiness, pest and disease resistance, stress tolerance, and palatability, which through breeding could lead to the development of productive cultivars adapted to a much wider geographic and climatic area. For example, millions of walnut trees grow wild in the montane fruit forests of Central Asia. Some exceptionally cold hardy plants have been identified there that produce large, thin-shelled, high-quality nuts. Other selections have been identified that express traits such as repeat bloom, the production of nuts on lateral spurs, highly precocious seedlings (also called “fast- fruiting” trees, which produce flowers one or two year from planting the seed, as well as producing grape-like clusters of nuts on the trees), extremely thin shells, apomictic (clonal) seed development, and resistance to numerous pests and diseases . Breeding new walnut varieties through hybridization is both difficult and time consuming. It is therefore, convenient to exploit existing variability by making appropriate selections based on characters like climatic adaptations, precocity, high productivity, good quality of nut and kernel and resistance to major diseases. Anthracnose disease affect all leaves , leaf petioles, shoots, nuts and peduncles , and has been reported to infect several cultivars of English as well as black walnuts severely.
Because Jammu & Kashmir has suitable agroclimatic conditions and land where high quality walnuts can be grown. Varieties having desirable traits were formerly not easily available, reflecting the limited breeding work, even at the global level. But now many varieties having desirable traits, like dwarf stature, shorter juvenile period, earliness, better nut: kernel ratio and lateral bearing, are available, and these can be used as planting material instead of seedling trees, which generally are lacking in such desirable traits. Jammu and Kashmir government proposes to set up a Walnut Board in the State to give a boost to walnut production in a big way on scientific lines by setting up scientific walnut processing units in various areas of the State. But still more needs to be done. Right now need of the hour is to open up high technology poly-houses to increase the production, popularize dwarf varieties and introduce high-yielding strains/varieties. This will ensure economic growth of the State in general and farming community in particular as horticulture is the backbone of the State’s economy. The close coordination between Horticulture Department and Agriculture Universities of Jammu & Kashmir is imperative so that maximum farmers are benefited. Training for technology transfer is an important component to provide knowledge about the latest developments in the walnut industry through visits to advanced nurseries, walnut farms, walnut manufacturers and government research institutions involved in walnut study programmes. Although walnuts are grown in rain fed areas, the irrigation assumes importance whenever rainfall is deficient. The walnuts grown in draught condition are of poor quality and kernels are yellowish in color. Hence people and government specifically should pay added attention towards the development of irrigation system for the irrigation of walnut trees. Some other steps to be taken are:-
Promotion of nurseries in private sector to fulfill the huge demand of grafted plants of walnut.
Introduction of new and improved and high yielding lateral bearing varieties having quality kernels for getting good economic returns to the farmers.
Linking of Institutions and Universities would be a great help support in this direction. The Central Institution of Temperate Horticulture (CITH) is one of best institution working on walnut and other fruit crops.
Promotion of drip irrigation system in the walnut orchards to increase the yield and improve the nut quality.
Dissemination of latest production technology among walnut growers through distribution of package and Practices
Training and skill up-gradation of nursery men on efficient methods and providing those facilities for vegetative propagation.
Rejuvenation of old and sick walnut orchards
Standardization of vegetative propagation techniques of walnuts.
Establishment of walnut processing units consisting of pre-cooling and storage facilities.
Create technical awareness among farmers for plantation of walnut
The pests cause lot of damage to walnut produce. More than 2% of total and sometimes even 5% is lost by way of pests.
If the department of Horticulture Planning and Marketing wants to remain relevant in the present scenario viz-a-viz walnut industry the revolutionary steps on scientific terms and conditions as mentioned above in the detailed gist need to be taken to take away the sagging industry out of duress. The imports can be a threat to the dry fruit Industry but Jammu & Kashmir state has a potential for dry fruit if remedial measures are taken. This can be the only way out to challenge the huge imports of walnut from China and other countries so that our fruit industry stays afloat.
M. A. Khan