Ever since Ladakh became a Union Territory in Aug 2019, it has been witnessing a positive change. In a development, a consignment of 150 kg Raktsey Karpo, the sweetest apricot, was exported to Dubai from the Kargil district of Ladakh. Surviving nearly 50 years export ban, it was the first time when apricots from Ladakh found their way to the international market.
Ladakh exported apricots for the first time
With the Government promoting the horticulture industry in the Union Territory, a consignment of 150 kg of fresh apricots was exported to Dubai on Sunday by Gurgaon-based startup Krishak Agritech. Flagged off by Feroz Ahmed Khan, Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, the export of apricots is expected to provide a major boost to the local farmers of the Union territory.
Feroz Ahmad Khan said CEC LAHDC Kargil said, ”The event marks an important milestone for Kargil, the fruit has not only been sent to the Indian market but also to the international market, with their first order of 150 kg from Dubai. Paving the way for local entrepreneurs to participate in the value chain of Apricot, this initiative would also ensure that the farmers of Kargil benefit from reduced wastage and receive an immediate realisation of the value of their crop. Apricot has recently been identified as the primary crop for Kargil under the ODOC programme of the Government of India.”
State president Jamyang Tsering Namgyal took to twitter to applaud the government for the move, “Things started changing after Ladakh became a union territory. Apricot came to be identified as the primary crop for Kargil under its #OneDistrictOneCrop Programme. Fresh Apricots from Ladakh have for the 1st time found their way to the international market. #ModiHaiTohMumkinHai.”
50 years-long ban on apricots
However, apricots, the primary cash crop for the farmers of Kargil, was never exported before. Moreover, it was only after when Ladakh became Union Territory that apricots were identified as the primary crop for Kargil under its #OneDistrictOneCrop Programme.
As per the experts, codling moth in the cold arid region of Ladakh and was supposed to have entered Ladakh from North-Western Frontier Provence of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Thus, the then government, in order to prevent the spread of codling moth to apple growing areas especially Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir restricted marketing and supply of apricot produce from the Ladakh region under J&K Pest and disease act.
Feroz Khan said, “The export of fresh apricots from Kargil district to international as well as domestic markets was banned by the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir government in 1986 under the “flimsy pretext” of stopping the spread of codling moth.”
Naveen Gahlawat, founder of Krishak Agritech said that with the negligible efforts by successive J&K governments to rectify the problem of codling moth, the farmers of Union Territory were disheartened. However, the district still produces more than 20,000 tons of apricots grown on old trees.
“Ironically, while India was importing apricots for its domestic market from Afghanistan, more than 70 per cent of the fruit in Ladakh was allowed to perish. Only 30 per cent of the fresh produce used to be dried by the local people for sale outside Kargil as a dry fruit,” he added.
However, for a change, the government with help of a private farmer-centric firm, that is, Krishak Agritech, made an attempt to rectify the problem and exported apricots from Ladakh.
Krishak Agritech is a farmer-centric organization that deals with farmers across the Himalayan states. The organization, so far, has exported 20 MT of fresh apricot worth Rs 30 lacs procured from more than 200 farmers of UT Ladakh.