Despite being highly productive, Kashmir’s walnut is struggling to survive due to the intrusion of Californian walnut breeds into Indian markets which has diminished the value of Kashmir valley’s native walnut production.
At one point, Kashmir was ranked as the second-largest producer of walnuts in the world but walnuts from California, China (the world’s largest producer), Chile, the Netherlands, and Turkey are currently flooding the Indian market.
The Kashmiri walnut business has been severely affected by the lack of scientific intervention and intense competition from cheap imported varieties, leading growers to look for alternate crops like apple orchards to earn their livelihood. Another reason which made walnut growers of Kashmir worried is climate change, population expansion, and the imposition of GST and VAT.
Kashmir’s walnut industry has suffered in past years. Growers directly associated with the organic crop lamented that both rates as well as the market have shrunk. Once famed for their rich ingredients and creamy taste, Kashmiri walnuts are being sold at throw-away prices by the farmers
As per official data, India produced 2.82 lakh tons of walnuts in 2021-22 with J&K accounting for around 92 per cent of the produce. Anantnag and Kupwara are the leading producers of walnuts in Kashmir. Walnut cultivation continues to shrink steadily from 47,004 hectares in 2017-18, 46,118 hectares in 2018-2019, 46,175 hectares in 2019-2020, 46,134 hectares in 2020-2021 and 46,197 hectares in 2021-2022.
Director Horticulture Ghulam Rasool Mir said that 13 nurseries of high density walnut trees will be established this year in Kashmir. “We are also creating a mass awareness to raise the export figure,” he said.
President dry-fruit growers association Kashmir, Bahadur Khan told The Dispatch that imposition of Goods and Services Tax/ VAT has taken a serious toll on walnut import in Kashmir.