Kulgam : One of the main industries supporting the economy of Kashmir is horticulture bearing variety of fruits and providing sustenance to a major chunk rural population particularly those living on keravas and high terrains . Due to the temperate climate, Kashmir grows numerous varieties of apples, apricots, almonds, peaches, cherries, plums, pears, walnuts and other fruits.
As the horticulture sector witnessed prolific production and cultivators earned huge income, this sector attracted more and more people into the pursuit. This attraction of farmers to grow their orchards found new High Density plants provided by Horticulture department.
The Department of Horticulture, Kashmir trained farmers and acquainted them with the modern technology and high density plants to increase their income manifold.
In district Kulgam, Horticulture Department through farmer awareness programmes, seminars, training programmes and other channels educated people about High Density Plantation and motivated them to introduce these varieties in their orchards as it ensures bumper crop and increases in income.
Kulgam witnesses those efforts materializing on ground as many people have created HDP orchards on their fields since the last couple of years.
“High Density Plantation gives higher yield as well as returns per unit area by increasing the number of trees per unit area in comparison to the traditional varieties”, said Chief Horticulture Officer Kulgam, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal.
With minimum investment and huge return, the HDP has elevated the socio-economic status of people affiliated with the horticulture. This farming is not only benefiting farmers directly but also helps in the increase of GDP of the region.
With every passing year, High Density Apple farming is gaining momentum in Kulgam and as the success of farmers who adopted it at the first instance has become talk of the town.
Mohammad Sikander Rather, a resident of MirhamaModergam area established High Density Orchard with the help of the department during 2017-18. At that particular time, the Horticulture Department provided him 888 HD plants for an area of eight Kanals.
As his orchard grew and plants started bearing crops in a year, Sikander was flabbergasted with the abundant product.
He started working hard to harvest crops even in large quantities but his sole hard work was insufficient for his big orchard. He employed a few more people who helped him in his multiple efforts like to operate the farm machinery and other time bound horticulture activities in the orchard. Sikandar pays them good wages for their work which helps them to feed their respective families.
He is satisfied with HD Orchards as this year also his realization of profit was more than double as compared to conventional apple farming.
Almost 23254 hectares of land is under Horticulture production while the number of orchardists at present in the district is 64000. This sector yielded 244493 Metric Tons production in 2021-22 with turnover of Rs.1441 Crores.
The trend of converting other land into orchard land is increasing besides t under Area Expansion Programme, during current fiscal year, an area of 138.10 Kanals has been brought under Ultra High Density Plantation (Apple) with financial assistance of Rs 140.00 Lakhs. Moreover, an area of 8.9 hectares has been brought under normal high density plantation (Apple) under CSS-MIDH.
To boost the production through Modernization/Mechanization, the Department has provided Tractors, Power Tillers, Motor power sprayers, Brush cutters and Water lifting devices were distributed among the beneficiaries.