Centre to set up Post-Entry Quarantine facility in Kashmir to produce world-class walnuts
Srinagar: Walnut growers have a reason to rejoice as the Centre has decided to set-up a state-of-the-art Post-Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility in Kashmir.
National Seed Corporation (NSC) in collaboration with horticulture department would set up a PEQ facility at Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development, Zainapora Shopian.
Funded by National Horticulture Board, Government of India, the NSC, as per the officials, has been entrusted with the import of walnut and apple planting material from developed Countries and producing them in bulk for distribution in the Union Territory.
“The Government of India has sought assistance from the NSC for revamping the horticulture sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The NSC will import superior quality plant material from developed countries and make seeds for distribution to farmers,” said Director Horticulture Aijaz Ahmad Bhat.
He said the Jammu and Kashmir administration has identified land at Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development, Zainapora Shopian, which will be handed over to the NSC for raising infrastructure.
“They needed 400-500 Kanal of land for establishing infrastructure including testing laboratories, bore wells, weather detecting and soil testing machines and certification of quarantine. So, we have some 2600 kanals of land at Zainapora, which can be used for setting up the PEQ,” Bhat said.
The director of horticulture said they have zeroed in on the walnut and apple because of the export potential.
“We have been already importing plant material from developing countries to promote high-density plantation. After establishing PEQ, high-quality apple and walnut varieties will be produced in the valley, which will be sold to the horticulture department,” he said.
So far the horticulture department has been importing high and medium density varieties of apple plants from countries including the Netherland and Italy.
As per the official data, Kashmir so far has brought 4,800 kanals of horticulture land under high-density apple plantation, which amounts to only 0.07 percent of the 3.4 lakh hectares of total horticulture land.
While new varieties have been introduced to Jammu and Kashmir, officials said that walnut has been still grown in a very traditional way.
They said high quality walnut varieties from California, Chile, and Chinese have invaded the market for Kashmir’s organic walnuts.
“So, through the PEQ facility, high-quality walnut varieties will be introduced in Jammu and Kashmir. Walnut cultivation will be promoted at a bigger level,” they said.
Walnut growers said that they have incurred huge losses due to drop in demand.
“California, Chile, and China walnuts have higher varieties. Ours is completely organic. We welcome the PEQ facility. Farmers and dealers are suffering due to the fall in the demand,” said the president Walnut Growers Association, Bahadur Khan said.