Kashmirs famous walnut industry in despair

January 30th, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by ANI  

By Parvez Butt
Srinagar, Jan.30 (ANI): The Kashmiri walnuts, widely known for their superior quality and taste, are not only popular across the country but also in different parts of the world. But many people related to this walnut industry here are disappointed these days.
Just when Kashmir’’s walnut kernel had begun doing brisk business in the international markets, recession hit and its rates tumbled, resulting in heavy losses to the growers, traders and exporters.
Walnut traders in valley tell that the demand for the walnut kernels was good in the world markets. But, this year, there are virtually no orders especially from traditionally importing countries in Europe, America and the Gulf.
“Our walnut export this year so far has not even crossed hundred metric tons, as against 6000 metric tons the previous year. Our condition in the walnut industry is bad. Our processors have walnut kernels in store but it is not getting sold. They have borrowed money from banks. Our growers have walnuts but they are not selling them because of not getting the expected rate,” said Shakeel Qalander, the President of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir.
Qalander added that walnut processing units were facing acute crisis due to slack demand. He said that the federation has advised its members not to respond to their demand for a credit up to 180 days (six months) as nobody knows whether these cash starved companies would survive till then or not.
Another factor has been the increased production of walnuts, which has not found any takers due to the financial crunch worldwide.
“The production of walnut and almond has increased and compared to the last year the production is good. If we talk about walnut, our production this year is 126,000 metric tons. Now as far as the decrease in the rates is concerned, it is global recession that is affecting according to the reports because the markets keep fluctuating. Last year, the growers did good business. But, this year, it is less than last year,” said M. S. Qasba, the Director of Horticulture.
Also, the Kashmiri walnut industry has found a strong rival in America.
The United States, is a big walnut producer and has been exporting its products at cheaper rates to countries that were importing walnut products from India and China. (ANI)

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