By BASHARAT RASHID
Pulwama: Almond production in District Pulwama is plummeting drastically and more than fifty percent of the land under its production has been lost as farmers have stopped its cultivation.
“The land under almond trees in district Pulwama was much more before some years as compared to now,” an official at the district Horticulture department said. He wished not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media.
As per data of Horticulture department, the land under almond trees in the year 2014-15 was 6466 hectares, in 2015-2016 it was 4668 hectares of land and 3631 hectares in 2017-18.
“More than fifty percent down from year 14-15 when it stood at 6466 hectares,” he said.
Take an example of Tral subdivision of the district claim that foreign Almond in the market has brought down the value of local almonds and to some Apple production provides better yields.
Some of the farmers claimed that there is lack of ‘interest at government level also’.
“If Almond production has come down drastically, as accepted by officials, did they ever do anything about it. Was there any effort by the government to look into causes and then come up with some remedies,” an Orchardist told INS in Tral.
According to him main town Tral, Bajwani, Shaldraman, Kahlil, Chaan Kitar, Chewa Ullar, Paribal like areas would be bubbling with Almonds but those trees have been cut.
“Those farms are gone. Farmers have shifted to other things,” he said.
Officials in Horticulture department say that there are different reasons for the decline of almond production.
Incharge Horticultural technical officer Tral, Bashir Ahmad Ganai, blamed the diseases like “blight disease” in almond trees and rapid conversion of the land for apple production as main causes for axing of almond trees.
He also said that “foreign almond in the market has downed the value of Kashmiri almond, due to which farmers conversed their land.”
But how did the disease have so much effect that farmers shifted to other fruits. The official said that the department couldn’t control the disease properly.
Another official claimed that if the trend continues in coming few years District Pulwama will be without a single Almond tree.