Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Jan 23: Realising that Kashmir almonds were facing a challenge for survival especially after invasion by the Californian almonds, Abdul Aziz Ganie, a farmer from Pampore, decided to end this dominance.
To take up this challenge, Ganie was in search of almond variety, which could win over Californian variety quality-wise.
It was then he came across the Bulgarian almond variety, which he decided to plant on his two kanals of land.
To execute his plan, he approached ICAR-Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (CITH), Srinagar to seek suggestions from the experts in the field.
“The CITH authorities were thrilled that I was taking this move to revive the almond crop. They gave me Bulgaria variety almond trees, which are in high demand worldwide. I planted fifty seedlings on two kanals of orchard land in my village,” he remarked. Ganie idea has succeeded as he for the last six years has been harvesting the high-quality almonds which fetch him good returns.
“The outcome is encouraging since I receive a good price for my produce. The plants are still in their early stages, but in the upcoming years, they will provide me with greater profits,” he said.
Irrespective of the native variety, Ganie said his almonds have a huge demand in the market including local as well as national.
“In every way, Bulgarian almonds are extremely rich. The almonds taste well and have an excellent oil content; they are called Kagzi in the local dialect, meaning “easy to break.” The dealers who purchase my almonds have given me positive feedback,” he said.
Encouraged by the yield, Ganie now intends to plant the saplings on three additional kanals of land. “I am going to plant almond seedlings on three more kanals. My goal is to bring this crop back to life because non-native apple varieties have caused a drop in almond production in Kashmir,” he said.
Pertinently, the massive cultivation of apple varieties in Kashmir have cost the valley its native almond variety. Data suggested that the area under almond cultivation has declined by nearly 70 percent in the last 10 years.
Figures reveal that the area under almond cultivation has declined from 16,418 hectares in 2011 to mere 5483 hectares in 2021.