There are around 200 walnuts processing units spread across the Samba, Jammu, Doda, Anantnag, Srinagar, Pulwama and Badgam districts, employing about 40,000 workers. Exports to Middle East, South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, North America and South America bring in revenues of $75 million,”said Sujiv Jain, managing director of a dry fruit company.
“In quantity terms, the exports of around 20,000 metric tons account for 55 percent of state’s total production,” said Jain.
“But exports are decreasing in volume terms owing to several reasons including static production, decrease in acreage under plantation, high prices of raw nuts, burgeoning domestic demand and increased consumption of nuts especially in North India”, Jain said.
“We have about 10 medium scale units operating in the state that are facing lot of problems due to the shortage of raw nuts; a lack of incentives aimed at increasing the area under production; and poor post-harvest management infrastructure in J&K,” he said.
Over 60 percent of the walnut crop is ruined in Kashmir because of unfavorable weather conditions in Kashmir. This year Kashmir received unprecedented rains that damaged the crop, said Shoukhat Wani, a grower.
Chinese products have occupied the market. Chinese walnuts are of better quality and are well packed. “We do not have the infrastructure to pack the dry fruits in attractive packs.” Wani said.
“The government should permit duty free imports of raw nuts till the domestic production of the same is increased to match capacity at processing units. The government should give incentives to farmers to set up post-harvest infrastructure, thereby preventing the spoilage of raw produce, It should involve central agencies to devise incentive based schemes for farmers to set up better post-harvest infrastructure,” said Jain.
“The state government must announce a minimum support price for the walnuts to help us recover our losses. It should also start a market in Kashmir to sell the products as now we have to go to Jammu to sell dry fruits”, said Wani.