Kashmir farmers take to grape cultivation

November 14th, 2007 - 2:27 am ICT by admin  
Srinagar, Oct. 18 (ANI): Kashmir, known for its meadows, pine forests and snow-capped peaks, is popular for its fruits and dry-fruits.

Apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, pomegranates, mulberry, peaches, apricots, walnuts and almonds, grown in Kashmir, have been popular all over the country. These fruits require a cool climate, moderate rainfall and bright sunshine. To these have been added grapes.

“The USP (unique selling point) of the Kashmiri variety of grapes is that they are very sweet. There are two to four varieties of grapes grown in Kashmir with each having a different taste,” said Gul Akhtar, a grape farmer.

“The grapes are in a great demand, as tourists carry them back home after a visit to the valley. The market for these grapes is growing at a rapid pace,” he added.

Residents of Manigam, Dharigam, Raipora and Lar of Ganderbal District are now busy harvesting grapes, fruits of their hard toil. About 61 hectares of land is under grape cultivation in Raipora alone.

There are several varieties of grapes grown in these areas including “Hussani” that is green in colour, “Shahi” black in colour, “Kishmishi” and “Thomson” being the others. But the best variety grown is “Kali Saribi”.

About 61 hectares of land in Raipura of Ganderbal District is known for its grape cultivation.

Farmers are keen to take up grape cultivation, as they find it a better crop.

Farmers are reaping rich dividends from grape cultivation with help and support from the State’s horticulture department, which is actively promoting the cultivation of the exotic fruit.

“Kashmiri grapes are unique in the sense that they are available only in the State and not elsewhere in India. Ten years ago, the demand for these grapes was not much. But the scenario is different now. We are unable to meet the demand today”, said Reyaz Ahmed, another grape farmer.

The best thing about the grapes of Kashmir is that they get ready when there are no grapes in rest of the country. This helps the farmers to fetch good earnings.

Today, several acres of grapevines are spread across the lush slopes with farmers increasingly opting for diversification of crops, breaking away from the staple crops of wheat, maize and paddy. They are replacing them with juicy grapes.

The State horticulture department is taking necessary steps for promoting grape cultivation across the State in a big way.

“Grapes are available only in Kashmir during this season. In Maharashtra and Southern States, grapes are available only after January. Kashmiri grapes are relished by people all over India. We, therefore, have a huge market for them” said, Manzoor Ahmed, Horticulture Development Officer, Jammu and Kashmir.

Encouraging the Kashmiri farmers to adapt to grape cultivation, the State Government is actively involved in creating awareness. Farmers are being familiarized with farming techniques through various training programmes.

Initiatives are being taken to convert the grape cultivation into an organised sector. Under new government schemes, incentives are being given to help the farmers set up vineyards.

Ninety per cent of the total production of the grapes grown in Kashmir is exported to other States of the country and the rest is sent to the local markets within the State. (ANI)

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