Over the years the apple production across Kashmir valley has witnessed a gradual decline. The decrease in the overall apple production has been a cause of worry for the fruit growers of the valley. The experts hold multiple reasons responsible for the decline. Many are of the opinion that unprecedented use of pesticides has lead to the decrease in apple production in valley.
Mohammad Ramzan, subject matter specialist horticulture department south Kashmir said, “The apple production has been declining for past many years and various reasons are responsible for the decrease. Some of the major reasons include inappropriate weather, excessive use of pesticides and the old orchids. When we talk of the bad weather it is the continued spring rains which are fatal for the growth of the fruit. The constant rains during the month of March and April destroy the fruit and this has contributed to the decline in the production.
He added, “Secondly our orchids are as old as up to 30 or 40 years. After such a long period there is a decrease is the fruit production which is natural. In this regard we are generating more land for the cultivation of the fruit. It also includes growing new trees in the existing orchids.”
Mohammad Ramzan revealed that the use of pesticides and other chemicals has affected the pollinators, which has ultimately led to lower yield. He said that the horticulture department organizes awareness among the people against excessive use of insecticides and pesticides.
He said, “One of the major reasons for the fruit decline is the use of pesticides which has had a drastic impact on the honey bees. Cross pollination is an important factor for the fruit growth and for this honey bees and other organisms play a crucial role. Pesticides and insecticides have resulted in killing of the honey bees. This has resulted in low production of apple. Therefore we try to minimize the use of pesticides and create awareness among people about its impacts. We have integrated pest management (IPM) as per which we organize awareness programs for fruit growers and explain to them the bad impact of these. We tell them to not to depend on the chemicals only but on plant nutrition and soil nutrition which indeed increases the fruit growth.”
More than half of the population in Kashmir valley particularly people across the south and north Kashmir are involved in the cultivation of apple in the state.