KISHTWAR, AUGUST 08: District administration Kishtwar is focusing on horticulture sector to boost farm income and strengthen local economy.

Area expansion and rejuvenation of existing orchards with high density planting has been prioritised to fully tap the horticulture potential available in the district.

To attract youth, technological intervention and spreading of awareness about the lucrative avenues in the sector has been tipped as another area of focus.

The mountainous district is known for saffron production and its quality worldwide, even as horticulture sector also offers a promising avenue for employment generation.

Having a blend of temperate and sub-tropical type climate, the district with areas like Marwah, Paddar, Nagseni and Kishtwar are suitable for the growth of all types of dry and fresh fruits ranging from walnut to citrus fruits etc. The availability of the coniferous vegetation like pines and deodar provides huge potential for the wild varieties of dry fruits like chilgoza (pinus seeds) and the thanchi (peculiar dry fruit in the forests of Paddar).

Taking a novel initiative, the district Horticulture department has increased the testing for the growth of the fruits like Kiwi and Strawberry. Being grown in the department’s Model Orchard Cum Nursery (MOCN) Dambar Chatroo for the first time, their cultivation has witnessed a great success in the initial stages.

Model orchard cum Nursery (MOCN) is situated at 40 KM from Kishtwar. The plants introduced at MOCN Chhatroo are high density fruits with apple varieties like star crimson, super gold, molis delicious, red delicious and Gala mast etc.

In addition, walnut progeny orchards and different varieties of pomegranate, grapes apricot and pear are also grown inside the facility.

This year, the department took the initiative of producing kiwi from hardwood cutting in the nursery on a larger scale. The hardwood cutting of kiwi cultivators such as Hayward, Tomuri and Monty were obtained from advance centres for horticulture department (ACHD) Ramban.

“At present district has an orchard area of 8992 Hectares, while there is additional 15000 Hectare potential for raising the orchards,” said District horticulture Officer Mohd Iqbal Baba.

This include about 4000 hectare in Kishtwar zone with 2500 hectare for increasing dry fruit plantation and 1500 hactare suitable for fresh and stone fruits.

Similarly, Nagseni zone has about additional 3000 hectare available for plantation for dry, fresh and stone fruits and Chhatroo zone 3500 ha for raising Horticulture orchards viz. 2000 ha for Dry nuts and 1500 ha for fresh and stone fruits.

The picturesque Paddar Valley has about 1500 ha potential area available for raising Horticulture orchards including 1000 ha for fresh and stone fruits and 500 ha for Walnut.

Likewise, the far off Marwah zone has 2000 hectare area suitable for Walnut and nut fruits and 1000 ha for fresh stone fruits.

During the financial year 2019-20, the district has recorded many achievements under the centrally sponsored schemes Mission for integrated Development of Horticulture (CSS-MIDS). Under Area expansion programme, 48000 dry fruit and 18000 fresh fruit saplings were provided to the beneficiaries with a subsidy cost of Rs. 20.16 Lakh.

The department also rejuvenated 35 hectares area orchards by providing 8000 high yielding fresh fruit plants to 72 beneficiaries with a subsidy of Rs 4 lakh.

Under protected cultivation, 40 tubular structures were provided to 40 beneficiaries for boosting off-season cultivation with subsidy cost of Rs 6.6 lakh.

Under the horticulture Mechanization component, 1 Tractor and 25 tillers were purchased by enlisted beneficiaries on 50 % subsidy cost released by the department.

For the purpose of packing sorting and storing of fruit crops after post harvest, two OFHU were constructed in the district with the release of 50 % subsidy cost @ Rs 2 Lakh totaling 4 Lakh.

To promote the organic farming in the district, three vermi compost units were established at 50% subsidy cost with Rs 1.59 lakh released in favour of beneficiaries.

Similarly, funds under CSS-PMDP, PMKSY and PMRKVY released to beneficiaries for the uplift of the horticulture sector in the distric