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Game Changer

April 18, 2024

High-density plantation has emerged as a game-changer in the realm of fruit cultivation, particularly in regions like Kashmir, renowned for its apple orchards. This modern agricultural practice offers a plethora of benefits, promising early yields and superior quality compared to traditional methods. Notable apple varieties currently cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir include Jeromine, King Roat, Gala Scarlet, Red Velox, Scarlet Spur-II, Super Chief, Redlum Gala, and Auvi Fuji. The potential of high-density plantation to revolutionize fruit production in Kashmir was underscored by Vice-Chancellor Dr. Nazir Ahmad Ganaie of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) during the recent Apple Blossom Festival held at SKUAST Shalimar. Ganaie has urged farmers to embrace modern technologies, emphasizing the need to adopt high-density orcharding as a viable alternative to conventional employment opportunities. He highlighted the significance of initiatives like the Apple Blossom Festival in educating orchardists about the advantages of high-density plantations. These include not only early yields but also superior fruit quality, factors crucial for ensuring profitability and sustainability in fruit cultivation. He further stressed the importance of leveraging the institution’s resources for data collection from fruit blocks. He also emphasized the need to identify critical factors influencing fruit growth and encouraged students to actively participate by maintaining observational records. An increasing number of farmers are transitioning to high-density apple farming due to its low input and labor costs, coupled with the superior quality of the apples produced. These apples exhibit uniformity in color and size, making them more appealing to consumers. Farmers who have adopted high-density plantation methods have reported significant increases in profitability, with high-density apples fetching considerably higher prices compared to traditional varieties. Moreover, high-density plants start yielding fruits in the very first year, ensuring a bumper crop annually while requiring fewer fertilizers and pesticides. One of the key challenges in the horticulture sector is the rejuvenation of old orchards. Under the High-Density Plantation (Apple) Scheme, efforts are being made to replace old, senile, or flood-affected orchards with high-density plants. This initiative aims to revitalize the apple industry by upgrading nurseries to ensure the availability of quality plant material. The Horticulture Department is also focusing on development of the sector by way of rejuvenation, High Density Plantation, mechanization to increase the production, productivity, improvement in quality and also to provide best marketing infrastructure to the growers/farmers and traders within and outside the State. To boost the state’s horticulture produce and facilitate its entry into the global market, the Jammu and Kashmir government had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED). This initiative focuses on the High-Density Plantation of various fruits including Apple, Walnut, Almond, Cherry, Mango, Litchi, Olive, and more. The scheme is slated to be operational till March 2026, with a targeted coverage area of 5500 hectares across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, the High-Density Plantation (Apple) Scheme holds immense promise for the future of apple cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir.

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