The Valley’s famous apple orchards are in fruit with a bumper crop
Apple trees droop heavily with fruit in the famous orchards of Kashmir this season. In the apple-rich districts of south and north Kashmir, the harvest continues to be a family affair. The orchard owners have a reason to cheer, as the Horticulture Department has declared a bumper crop.
The department is looking to best the previous record of 17.9 tonnes in 2017 after some high yielding varieties were introduced. Accounting for 71% of the national apple production, the Valley is sending over 500 trucks carrying the fruit to various parts of the country and Nepal, Bannd gladesh and other countries every day. Each truck carries 500 to 1,300 boxes. The transport started in the first week of September, and will only increase by November-end. “The number of trucks goes up to 1,500 a day in October and November,” a Horticulture Department official said. Pulwama district is looking at reaping ₹720 crore from apple sales this year, Deputy Commissioner G.M. Dar says. Pulwama is counted among the apple-rich districts of Kashmir, besides Shopian and Baramulla. When traditional orchards produce just 10 to 12 tonnes, those with imported breeds such as M-6 fetch 25 tonnes. Introduced in the 1930s in Sopore district of north Kashmir, covering 12,000 hectares, the apple crop now stands on nearly 2.14 lakh hectares in the Valley. The apple industry generates around 7.71 crores man-days, with women making up over 25% of the workforce. Seven lakh farming families are directly or indirectly dependent on apple cultivation.
Valley’s famous export: As the bumper apple crop has painted a red streak across orchards in Kashmir, farmers are busy harvesting the fruit for transport across India and abroad.
Season’s best: In mid-September, growers across Kashmir start harvesting apples. The season goes on till mid-November.
On the move: A farmer wheels the freshly produce for sorting.
Colour palette: Green vying for attention amid a sea of red.
Red rain: A farmer has his hands full sorting the apples.
Dapple-grey weather: It’s a race against time for apple farmers in Kashmir as the fickle weather can put the brakes on a bumper harvest this season.
In transit: Apples in boxes go to waiting trucks.
In apple-pie order: Packing the juicy bunches.