After allowing tax-free import of Iranian apple, the Indian government in another attempt to deal a blow to the Kashmiri fruit traders is encouraging the import of walnut despite being high in produce in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Intrusion of Californian walnut breed in Indian cities has cast a shadow on the Kashmir Valley’s indigenous walnut produce and brought down its price, forcing it gasp for a breath and survival.
Official figures suggest that India produced 2.82 lakh tons of walnuts in 2021-22 with IIOJK accounting for around 92 per cent of the produce.
Islamabad and Kupwara are the leading producers of walnuts in Kashmir. In view of imposition of different taxes like GST and VAT, walnut cultivation continues to shrink steadily from 47,004 hectares in 2017-18, 46,118 hectares in 2018-2019, 46,175 hectares in 2019-2020, 46,134 hectares in 20 20-2021 and 46,197 hectares in 2021-2022.
Akhtar Hussain Malik, a noted botanist at Kashmir University said that there are multiple reasons responsible for declining demand of Kashmiri walnuts.
“Intrusion of Californian walnuts in Indian cities has cast a shadow on Kashmir’s walnut produce. The price of walnuts from Kashmir has significantly dipped as Californian walnuts are sold in Indian markets,” Malik said, besides other reasons that include Climate change, population explosion and drought like conditions.
President dry-fruit growers association Kashmir, Bahadur Khan said that imposition of Goods and Services Tax/ VAT has taken a serious toll on walnut import in Kashmir.
“The Goods and Services Tax (GST) announced by the Indian government also spelled problems for Kashmir’s walnut growers. In July 2017, walnuts were first put under the 12 percent tax slab but later added 5 percent bracket after a show of strong resentment by growers,” he said.—KMS