Kashmir promotes bee-keeping to boost fruit production

July 25th, 2011 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, July 25 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir has decided to boost bee-keeping by setting up 10,000 colonies this year - not only to help increase honey production but also to get a higher yield of fruits like apples, cherries and plums.

“We have experimented that if bee-keeping is promoted, it will not only increase production of honey but also give higher yield of fruits,” state Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hasan Mir told IANS.

He explained that bees help in pollination of fruit flowers. “More bees mean increased pollination of flowers on fruit plants.”

The state agriculture department is exploring new ways to adopt, promote and take up schemes to boost bee-keeping that will also generate employment.

Jammu and Kashmir is among the largest fruit producing areas in Asia with about 2.5 million tonnes of apples, pears, cherries, plums, almonds and others produced last year, the department officials said. The state also produces world-class honey.

Said Nazir Ahmad Dar, a renowned orchardist of north Kashmir: “We have experienced that bees help in pollination of fruit flowers, especially in March and April. This has increased fruit production by 30 percent.”

The agriculture minister has ordered officials to help farmers to set up at least 1,000 new bee-keeping units in the state.

“There are 10 colonies in each unit. This means we are going to set up 10,000 colonies this year. This will increase the production of honey in Jammu and Kashmir from 16 tonnes to 65 tonnes,” Mir said.

A happy Dar said: “When orchardists will experience that bees are helping in getting increased fruit production, they will be inclined towards setting up more bee-keeping units on a large scale.”

He also said that such pollination gives better quality fruits, especially apples.

Mir said agricultural activities were witnessing a sharp decline in the state and therefore such steps were necessary to give the sector a push and also generate employment.

“Earlier, agriculture was contributing 56 percent to the state’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which is now reduced to only 26 percent,” he stated.

“Activities like bee-keeping, mushroom cultivation or for that matter sericulture can contribute in economic growth,” he added.

Getting higher yields of honey means better business for people like Kashmir’s honey trader Noor-ul-Amin.

“The best quality honey in Jammu and Kashmir comes from summer mist flora which is on the higher reaches. There are others too which come from multi-flora,” he said.

But the agriculture minister is aiming at getting more variety of honey. “We have decided to produce spring mist and autumn mist honey (from flowers during spring and autumn seasons).”

Mir said bee-keeping will help in “creating employment and employability. We are at the threshold of creating a famous honey industry in the state after its fame in tourism and handicraft.”

(Binoo Joshi can be contacted at binoo.j@ians.in)

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