Status, challenges, opportunities and approaches for walnut production in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India
Authors: RAFIQ AHMAD SHAH, PARSHANT BAKSHI,V K WALI, AMIT JASROTIA AND RUCKU GUPTA

Present status

J &K is the major walnut producing state in the India and almost entire quantity (98%) of walnut exported outside is from J& K. Almost 85.05% of area of dry fruits in J& K is under walnut. J & K has monopoly in the walnut production. The area under walnut in J&K presently is 89339 ha, with production of about 266280 tons. The productivity of J&K is about 2.98 tons/ha. In India the walnut is produced over an area of 92 thousand hectares with a production of about 228 thousand tons. The overall productivity of walnut is about 2.47 tons/ha. Walnut local consumption both for kernels and shells is 10-15 % while as 85-90% contribute to exports. Processed walnuts in local industries include 60-65% while as unprocessed export is 35- 40% (Entrepreneurship Development Institute, J&K). The country has exported 3,291.71 MT of Walnuts to the world for the worth of Rs. 117.92 crores during the year 2015-16. Jammu and Kashmir produces 90 % of walnut production in India and percentage share of state in India’s total production is showing an increasing trend. J&K state has been recently declared as ‘Agri- Export Zone’ for ‘Walnut’. Walnut requirement targeted for 2030 has been assessed taking in to account the dietary requirement of the growing population, present level of production, growth rate, export and import etc. Based on these factors the requirement of the produce is approximately 4.98 lakh tons from an area of 1.66 lakh ha with an average productivity of about 3 tons/ha. Therefore, there is an urgent need for adoption of modern technologies to achieve the growing demands (Verma and Awasthi,2012)

Challenges and weakness

Shortage of quality planting material which is essential to bring more areas under walnut production Lack of high-yielding varieties, long gestation periods, poor orchard management and uneven yields (estimated at 18-50 kg per tree per year) have kept walnut production almost stagnant. No regular orchards like apple have been established in J& K yet and walnuts are losing out to apples and fresh fruits in terms of the area under cultivation, as these fetch better economic returns. As a whole, the walnut crop in India has cyclical production with year-to-year fluctuations ranging from 5 to 20 per cent depending on the weather. The pests cause lot of damage to walnut produce. More than 2% of total and sometimes even 5% is lost by way of pests. Although India shares 20% of European market of walnut but external competition from California, Mexico, China and other countries is challenging and in future this will further show increasing trend. Due to growing domestic consumption, coupled with a decline in domestic production, exports of walnuts decreases. Additionally, tighter domestic supplies encouraged walnut imports, due to which prices fall drastically. Also lack of government export oriented policies and weakness of intervention reduces the export level walnut. Even though the domestic and external demand for walnut has increased over the years, in India walnut cultivation could not develop rapidly due to a number of constraints including insufficient scientific research, improper, long gestation period and low tree density. Most of our produce is of variable quality and size so our produce is not competitive in the market and lack of adequate storage facilities and processing units in various types of productions adds to the problem. Lack of infrastructure like transport, power supply, roads, full-fledged mandis packing units and processing facilities and biggest wastage from the farm to house and house to mandis and during the transpiration from the farm gate to consumer the production is going pass out seven different distribution channels and in every channel the loss of the product is near about five to seven percent. Low productivity 2.98 tonnes/ha which is very less as compared to advanced countries 3-5 tonnes/ha. Low productivity due to lack of high quality planting material, poor pollination, low tree density per unit area, predominant terminal bearing, long juvenile period, big tree size, poor filling, poor success rate of grafting, and climatic fluctuations were found to be responsible for low productivity and replanting of low yielding walnut cultivars at wider spacing is also responsible for low productivity. Import of walnut from outside costs too much to farmers for sustainability, because they do not fetch good price of their produce.

Opportunities

There is a high variability of this fruit crop in J&K which can be explored and utilized for selection and development of promising strains like lateral fruiting genotypes, climate resistance and disease and pest resistance. Walnut cultivation plays a significant role in the economic profile of the farmers living in hilly and backward areas, where economic condition of the people is extremely fragile. Therefore there is a large scope for expanding area under walnut cultivation. Around 60 per cent of the total walnut of J&K is supplied to various parts of India. By 2030 to meet the domestic and export demand we need to produce 4.98 lakh tons from an area of 1.66 lakh ha with an average productivity of about 3 tons/ha of walnut. The Jammu & Kashmir have vast scope of expansion of area under walnut by establishing regular orchards like apple, by providing farmers good quality disease free planting material, by establishing nurseries and mother orchards of lateral bearing high yielding cultivars. The cultivation and production of walnut will certainly improve the nutrition status, employment and economy of the rural farmers of Jammu & Kashmir. Pest and disease pressures of walnut trees are much less than for fruit trees. Export of shelled and in-shell walnuts will generate employment and economy. Establishment of walnut nurseries of by using modern methods and standards can meet the local demand and additional planting material can be supplied to different states and exported outside India.

Approaches

With most trees being 100 to 150 years old, the need of hour is to encourage fresh walnut plantation of improved cultivars. Growers need to establish commercial orchards on pattern of apple to increase walnut production within five or ten years. Besides, distribution of walnut plants, farmers should be provided technical assistance from planting to harvesting. Rejuvenation of old and sick walnut orchards and adoption of site-specific and scientific management techniques can accelerate the production of walnut. Expansion of area under walnut by convincing and motivating farmers, by providing them good quality grafted plants and Identification of areas which are highly suitable for quality walnut production. In coming years our domestic demand will increase. This will reduce our export. To meet the demand we need to increase the productivity to check the import of walnut and surplus produce can be utilized for export. Adoption of high density regular orchards and planting of lateral bearing cultivars can increase the productivity per hectare. Adoption of scientific cultural and management practices canopy management by training and pruning and planting and popularization of low stature cultivars will definitely excel the growth of area and production. Alongside, there is the need to introduce high-yielding strains/varieties. Natural population of walnut is declining and cut at fast rate and needs conservation for use in selection and breeding programme in future and there is further an urgent need for adoption of modern technologies to achieve the growing demands of increasing population and export.

Conclusion

J&K has the most favorable conditions for producing high quality walnuts in India among all other growing states. The adoption of modern technologies and use of scientific management practices will foster the growth of production and productivity in short period of time to meet the growing domestic demand and surplus produce can be exported.

References:


Verma, M.K. and Awasthi O.P.2012 Prospects of New varieties under High Density for Temperate Fruits and Nut Production. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282356742.
Walnuts.apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/SubHead_Products/Walnuts.htm

Walnut Industry in India - Present Status and Future Strategies http://www.biotecharticles.com/Agriculture-Article/Walnut-Industry-in-India-Present-Status-and-Future-Strategies-3511.html



About Author / Additional Info:
Pursuing Ph. D in Horticulture (Fruit Science) at SKAUST-J