Srinagar: All roads lead to apple grower Shahnawaz Khan’s orchard at Pinjura in South Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Khan has become the first orchardist to grow genetically modified red-fleshed apples in the valley.
The red-fleshed apple variety also known as ‘red love’ is drawing thousands to Khan’s orchard at Pinjura.
Khan said the red love variety was usually grown in European countries but he first saw it in Himachal Pradesh.
“Usually, the red love variety is grown in European countries like Switzerland and Italy and it was first grown in 2010 only. It is a red-fleshed apple and I first grafted it in 2019. Last year, I was able to grow only a few apples and its taste was a bit bitter then. However, this time it is sweet. Actually, it has to be stored for two to three weeks after plucking, after which it turns sweet. This red-fleshed apple variety has got a lot of medicinal value,” Khan told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said he was able to grow two crates this season and hoped for a better output next year. He said other growers two had shown a lot of interest in this variety as it sold for around Rs. 500 a kilogram.
“I was able to grow two crates of red-love apples this season and I am hoping for a better output next year. In Kashmir, growers usually do not experiment a lot. However, I received thousands of visitors during the past one month. They all were curious to know about the red-fleshed apple variety,” he said.
“Other growers too have shown interest as red love was sold for Rs. 1000 a kilo last year. And this year too, it sold for Rs. 500 a kilo. There is also a high demand for red love because of its medicinal properties,” Khan added.
Meanwhile, those who saw and tasted red love are all praise for Khan’s efforts.
“Apart from the attractive red flesh, this variety of apple is so crispy and has an amazing taste and fragrance. Shahnawaz is a man with a mission as he has grafted around 50 varieties of apples so far,” said Masood Taing, who tasted the red love.