The season of picking walnuts from the trees is at its peak these days in the Kashmir Valley.
Walnuts of the Valley are exported not only to other states, but also to the whole world. About 2.66 lakh metric tonnes of walnuts are grown in Jammu and Kashmir in an area spanning 89,000 hectares every year. More than 98 pert cent of the total walnuts grown in India come from Jammu and Kashmir.
Walnuts found in Jammu and Kashmir are mainly of three types — Vonth, Kaghazi and Barzul.
Vonth is hard and does not break easily. It has a thick and large outer shell and its kernel is small in size. This type is sold locally and is mainly used for oil extraction.
The Kaghazi or paper walnut is relatively large in size. Its outer shell is thin and the kernel is large and white in colour. Paper walnuts can be cracked with bare hands.
Barzool is a medium-sized walnut. It has a black and thick outer shell. The kernel is very tasty and not completely white in colour. This variety can be easily broken.
Walnuts in Kashmir are grown organically, which means no chemical sprays or fertilisers are used in its cultivation. Kashmiri walnuts are popular across India and are exported to the UK, the Netherlands and France, among many other countries. While the sales of Kashmiri walnuts declined after the Covid-19 pandemic, they are now slowly regaining their glory.
The walnut trees are found in the north and south of the Kashmir Valley. Removing walnuts from the trees is not something everyone can do. Only a skilled worker can perform the task. The trained person sits on a strong branch of a tree with a long stick. The worker then strikes the rest of the branches with force, causing the walnuts on them to fall down.
The horticulture department is making a serious effort to plant short trees to prevent injuries. Also, planting new walnut trees has been made mandatory after cutting the old trees.
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