SRINAGAR, May 24: The Kashmir valley, known for its apples, is fast emerging as a major supplier of vegetables to the markets of North Indian states. This year, vegetable exports from the valley are expected to reach an all-time high.
“This year our vegetable production will be crossing 0.15 million metric tonnes, the highest so far,” says Joint Director of Agriculture Extension.
“Only in the month of May this year, vegetables worth 3.3 million rupees were exported from the Valley. Seeing the trend the farmers and vegetable growers are developing interest in vegetable cultivation.”
The official said that he expected the exports from valley to reach one million metric tonnes in the near future.
Kashmir has more than 27,000 hectares of land under vegetable cultivation with Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama districts emerging as major vegetable growing zones. The floating gardens within the famous Dal Lake also contribute in the produce.
“From here we send green collard (Haak), cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, beans, onions and Lotus stem (Nadroo),” says a vegetable exporter, Bilal Ahmed. “These are the most sought varieties of vegetables many states like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.”
Kashmir’s vegetable produce has shown a 500 per cent in the last five years, official records show.
“Before, we used to earn 20 crores from vegetable exports and this year the exports will be crossing 1.5 lakh metric tons and revenue generated will be around 200 crores,” the Joint Director said.
Apart from growing interests among farmers, the government has increased its efforts to develop the agriculture in the state. “We played a vital role in providing expertise to the farmers. Under horticulture technology mission scheme, our department provided latest seeds to the farmers, besides giving them poly green houses and irrigation pumps on subsidized rates,” the official said.
Abdul Gani Channa, who owns three vegetable farms in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, says he expanded his limited vegetable production after seeing increasing dividends in the business.
“Earlier, Kashmiri people liked to grow fruits in their orchards and farms. But after seeing that vegetable farming is becoming a lucrative business, they switched to vegetables,” he says. “Earlier, I used to go for limited vegetable cultivation. But, now I have developed three more vegetable fields.”
But officials say the will be cautious in the plans for developing the vegetable business. “We are also working on expansion of vegetable gardens and to bring more land under the vegetable expansion programme. But, without converting fruit orchards and paddy fields into vegetable gardens,” said the Joint Director of the agriculture department.