Srinagar, Apr 07: Kashmir’s walnut industry is fast losing its Indian market to imported products, with its rates declining by more than 50 per cent in the last five years.
Jammu and Kashmir produces around 2.66 lakh metric tonnes of walnut cultivated on 89,000 hectares per year, contributing 98 per cent of the dry-fruit’s total production in India.
Despite being known for its high quality organic value throughout the world, Kashmiri walnut has seen a drastic decline in its demand in India and abroad.
As per the growers, walnut was last year sold for Rs 15,000-20,000 per 40 kilogram, while the same quantity was priced Rs 40,000 or more around four to five years ago.
Officials in the Horticulture Department also said that the rates of walnut dwindled by more than 30 per cent the last year.
“A kilogram of high quality walnut would cost around Rs 800, which last year was sold at around Rs 500,” they said.
Data reveals that in 2015-2016, India exported 3,292 MT of walnut amounting to Rs 117.92 crore.
In 2016-17, the export came down to 2,191MT worth Rs 55.27 crore.
The growers cite the import of walnuts from abroad as the main reason for the fate being suffered by the industry.
They said a large quantity of walnuts was being imported from countries Chile, California, and Mexico.
“The walnut fruit is the crown of Kashmir’s horticulture industry. A huge chunk of our walnut would be sold in the markets like Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, but in the last few years, our market has suffered immensely due to import flow of this fruit from the USA and Chile,” Arshad Ahmad Khan, a grower and dealer from Shopian, said.
The growers said the state has failed to make use of the modern marketing strategies for promoting the walnut industry.
“This is the only organic fruit of Kashmir, but who knows that? We don’t get any certificate from the government for promoting it nor are any special drives being held by the authorities to market it properly,” Muhammad Assadulah, a dealer from Pattan, said.
Walnut kernels in Kashmir are supplied from various districts like Kupwara and Baramulla in north Kashmir and Pulwama, Anantnag and Shopian in the south.
Minister for Horticulture Syed Basharat Bukhari has recently said that the state government was adopting various methods to revamp the walnut industry in the state.