Sriginar, Sep. 23 : With the plucking of walnuts in its final stage, growers of this delicious fruit in Kashmir region are anticipating a bumper yield this year.
The walnut growers here believe it would be a highly rewarding season this time Their hope is based on the good weather conditions witnessed here over the last few months.
Widely known for their superior quality and taste, Kashmiri walnuts hold a high demand in the markets in Jammu and Kashmir and in other States as well.
"The annual walnut harvesting is worth over 250 crores (2500 million rupees) to the economy of valley. With the rains and proper weather conditions, the annual production of walnut this year is likely to cross last year's total production of 146,000 metric tonnes. The department with its efforts to promote the cultivation of the walnuts has brought more than 82,000 hectares of land to grow this fruit," said Manzoor Ahmed, an official of Horticulture Department.
Walnuts are a high-energy food, rich in oil, vitamins and minerals. This fruit happens to be a popular ingredient in baked foods. As a dry fruit, it is in great demand particularly during the autumn and winter seasons.
"We have been into the vocation of growing walnuts since long. This year the production has been good and the rainfall has been good. We export walnut, as tourists like the fruit very much. The nuts are exported and give us enough money," said Mohammed Rafiq, a grower of walnuts.
Although walnuts are commonly consumed as dry fruits, in Kashmir valley, the fresh fruits are also in high demand.
Walnut oil is high in unsaturated fats and can be used as a substitute for olive and other cooking oils.
Also, during Ramadan month, walnut is extensively used in preparation of snacks, particularly for those items for the Iftar (breaking the fast after dawn to dusk fast) ritual feast.
"This year the production has been good. Many people like it. This time the climatic condition has been good and the rainfall was adequate. We also export walnuts among other fruits from Kashmir valley and the business has been very encouraging," said Gulam Mohammed Gania, a wholesale trader of walnuts and other fruits.
Among the tourists visiting the Kashmir valley, no shopping list is complete without walnuts to relish during the holidays and also to carry home.
An added advantage of walnuts is that unlike other fresh fruits that are perishable, walnuts are durable, lasting more than seven to eight months. By Parvez Butt