Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Dec 28: After apple, it is now walnuts, which suffer heavy losses due to the bulk import of this dry fruit from Afghanistan. Kashmiri walnut, which has already been suffering due to the onslaught by Californian and Chile walnuts is now facing threat from the Afghani walnuts.
President Kashmir Walnut Growers Association Haji Bahadur Khan said that the bulk quantities of walnuts were imported from Afghanistan to India, which he said was denting this particular industry.
“We are witnessing immense losses due to these imports. There is a free trade agreement between India and Afghanistan due to which walnuts come in large quantities to India. It has invaded our domestic market to a large extent,” he said.
While Khan said they will approach the government to save the walnut industry, he said many have given up trading walnuts in Kashmir because of less demand.
“Rates of walnuts ceased to improve for the last one decade. Walnut is not being traded like it used to be in Kashmir a few years ago,” he said.
Khan said Californian and Chile walnut have equally dented the market for Kashmir’s produce over the years. “The situation is such that a top quality walnut kernels sells at Rs 1000 per kilogram. This used to sell at Rs 1200 a decade before when only Kashmiri walnut ruled Indian markets,” he said.
Giving an insight into the market trends, Khan said low quality walnut, which comprises 8-0 percent produced in Kashmir, sells at Rs 150-250 per kilogram. “A low-quality kernel would sell at Rs 300 per kilogram some years before,” he said.
He said the rates of walnut kernels have gone down by almost 50 percent this year. Khan said the introduction of new walnut varieties becomes equally important to save the walnut industry of Kashmir.
“We have traditional walnut varieties, which are purely organic. When compared to the walnuts of California and Chile, the quality is too low. So, we appeal to the concerned department to encourage the introduction of new varieties to fight against the invasion by foreign imports,” he said.
Meanwhile, the walnut dealer said many among them have given up this trade permanently due to no returns. “Walnut like apples used to be the main cash crop of Kashmir. A major section of our population used to be associated with this trade. Now rarely, people are associated with walnut trading because of the low market demand,” said Bashir Ahmad Wani, a dealer.