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No training, apple farmers in Ladakh feel ignored

Arjun Sharma

Jammu, January 19

Overjoyed with the response received from other states to the first ever consignment of apples from the cold desert last year, farmers in Ladakh are now worried as the Union Territory government has so far not provided any help in the form of training and subsidy.

Farmers, especially those in Leh, sent their apple produce for the first time to different cities of the country last year. Before Ladakh became a separate UT, there was a ban on export of apples by the then Jamp;K government due to which the apples were sold only in the local market.

It was Rigzen Lundup, Councillor, Tiger constituency, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, who took the initiative and collaborated with farmers to send the apples to New Delhi, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Chennai among other states. “While the feedback received from these states was very encouraging, the farmers lack proper training and subsidy to promote Ladakh apple,” says Rigzin Lundup. He rues that his appeal to provide training by bringing in experts from Kashmir and HP has fallen on deaf ears.

Farmers are not aware of proper methods of plant pruning, plucking and grading the produce. Ladakh apple is grown by using glacial water with no chemical and pesticide.

The government at present is more focused on promotion of Sea Buckthorn, a berry grown in the region that has shown promising results and revenue for farmers. Locals believe that apple can bring revolution if government provides them help.

Kunzang Wangmo, Horticultural Development Officer, Leh, says the authorities are in talks with the farmers for the produce later this year.

“Earlier, the apples produced in Ladakh were supplied mostly to local Army units as we were not allowed to send the crop outside the region due to the directions by the then Jamp;K government. But now we will promote Ladakh apple in national markets,” Wangmo added.

Growers need govt help: Councillor

LAHDAC Councillor Rigzen Lundup says growers lack cultivation training and means to promote Ladakh apple sales in other states.
Appeal to bring experts from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh for training local farmers has fallen on deaf ears, he adds.

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