Despite several hiccups in transporting the fruit to outside, the Valley so far has exported a whopping quantity of fruit while witnessing huge demand for Delicious variety. Apple traders said the demand for the Delicious had been more as compared to other varieties. “Delicious formed over 75 per cent of the total apple export following by American at 15 per cent, and Mahraji at 8 per cent and others at 2 per cent.”
“Although J&K produces nine thousand metric tones of apple, highest in the country, when compared with the world production which is forty seven thousand metric tones, there is immense scope to increase the production,” experts said.
The different varieties of apple that Kashmir produces include Delicious, Golden, Red, Royal, Kullu, etc. “Outsiders prefer Delicious and Golden to other varieties,” traders said.
However, traders said customers in different areas have different choices. “If a particular class of customers prefers Golden and Delicious, there are others who prefer other varieties,” they said.
Traders said while in the Northern part of India customers like American variety in South the demand is more for sub-acidic variety. Interestingly, the apple in South of India is sold in numbers rather than by weight. People in Bihar and Bengal love Mahraji and American varieties.
Experts said Sopur, known as apple town in Kashmir produced fruit worth Rs two hundred crores last year. “At least 400-450 buyers come from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Hyderabad, Calcutta and Bangalore to Sopur to purchase fruits directly from the growers.”
The Valley every year produces seven to eight lakh metric tonnes of apple per year of which over three lakh metric tonnes are consumed within the State.
Over past some years there has been sustained increase in the production. However, experts believe with more infrastructure and investment into the sector, the production could be further increased.
Experts said sixty to sixty-five per cent of production comes from Varmul, fifteen per cent from Srinagar and Budgam while the rest from Islamabad, Kulgam and Pulwama.
Even as some Bulgarian varieties of fruit were introduced by the SKUAST Kashmir and Horticulture Department the same could not prove successful.