Hi-tech grading machines transforming Kashmir’s horticulture sector

Srinagar: Kashmir’s horticulture sector is witnessing a transformation with the introduction of Hi-tech grading machines.

Kashmir’s horticulture sector which is the backbone of the region’s economy is facing multiple challenges. Around 45 lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent on horticulture production.

According to figures, Kashmir apple industry is around Rs 10,000 crore and produces 2 million tones of apple every year. However, farmers said they were facing losses due to poor grading and packaging of fruit boxes.

“We used to do grading and packing of apple boxes manually and were not getting the real value of our goods. Now many apple growers have installed these hi-tech apple grading machines and are taking benefits from these machines,” Farooq Ahmad, a fruit grower from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district said.

He said the new technique has helped the farmers to increase their income. “We are transforming our horticulture through new techniques,” he added.

Earlier, Kashmiri farmers used to do traditional packaging of apples which resulted in losses while transporting these apples boxes to other parts of the country.

The farmers who have installed these low cost grading machines with government’s help say they are now earning good profits due to good packaging.

“Now many apple growers have installed these hi-tech machines in Pulwama with the government’s help,” a senior government official said.

Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families according to government figures are directly or indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes over eight percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation, the figures say.

A senior official of the Horticulture Department said, “Our fruit production was getting a setback due to poor grading and manual packaging. However, due to the introduction of cold storages and hi-tech apple grading machines, the quality of our grading has improved. For its installation, the government is providing them 50 percent subsidies which is a big boost for our horticulture sector.” (KINS)

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