Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Sep 4: Heavy exports of walnuts from Californian, Chinese and Chile continue to affect the walnut industry of the valley, which is currently witnessing a low demand for this dry fruit nationwide.
It is the peak time for harvesting of walnuts across the valley. The growers, however, claimed that there is a low demand for the walnuts for the six straight years due to the heavy exports of walnuts from these foreign countries.
President Kashmir Walnut Growers Association Haji Bahadur Khan said that walnuts have a reduced demand in the markets of India.
He said the rates of walnut kernels have gone down by almost 50 percent this season.
“A high quality walnut kernel, which we would sell at Rs 1200 per kilogram, sells at Rs 700per kilogram. Similarly, low-quality kernel would sell at Rs 300 per kilogram, which currently sells at Rs 150,” he said.
Khan said the situation is no different for the shelled walnuts, which also sell at ‘throwaway’ rates. “Shelled walnuts sell at Rs 120-200 per kilogram,” he said.
Khan cited the heavy imports of walnut kernels from countries including California, China and Chilly to India as main reason behind the ‘deathblow’ of Kashmir’s walnut industry.
“The heavy imports of walnuts from these countries began after the year 2016. There is no cap on the quantity of imports from these countries. Californian, Chinese and Chilly walnuts have invaded the entire markets in India,” he said.
Though Khan claimed that the Kashmiri walnuts are purely organic, he said it failed to survive against Californian, Chinese, and Chile walnuts. “Because of the use of pesticides and other sprays, their (Californian) walnuts mostly belong to top-grade quality,” he said.
Following reduced demand, growers said they failed to get a good deal from dealers. “Earlier dealers would come from various districts to buy our walnuts. Now, there are just a few dealers left, who still are associated with this trade,” said Abdul Majeed Khan, a walnut grower.
Officials at the horticulture department said they have introduced superior-quality walnut trees to revive the market for Kashmiri walnuts.
“We are raising awareness among farmers to grow hybrid walnuts trees. These trees suit our weather conditions and grow quality walnuts,” an official said.