With global warming, new apple varieties offer scope for North-East farmers

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Naga Republic Feature

 

Apple fruit is the oldest and commercially the most important temperate fruit and is fourth among the most widely produced fruits in the world after orange, banana and grape. In India it was grown mostly in cooler climate of Kashmir, hills of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

 

But not anymore as new apple varieties can now be grown in warmer climates, especially along the foothills of Nagaland and other North-Eastern States. And with global warming, these new apple varieties offer scope for farmers.

 

Interestingly, in the traditional apple belt of Kashmir, Kullu and Shimla, the plantation has shifted with rise in temperature. These climate resilient newer varieties are helping in continuing with cultivation not just in warm areas but also in the traditional plantation facing the after effects of global warming.

 

After years of research and experiment, progressive farmer and horticulturist Maj. Harvansh K. Sharma (Retd) is leading the way. Sharma, who has his own nursery centre, Itiben Nursery-cum-study centre and Resort at Khatkhati near Dimapur has planted more than 200 apples trees in his farm. He started his research in 2010 by planting some grafted apple trees brought from Himachal Pradesh and after two years some of the trees began to bear fruits.

 

The new apple varieties called Anna and Dorset suitable for warm climates bearing fruit at Itiben Nursery & Resort, near Dimapur.

 

Now his decade-long efforts have borne fruit. Sharma has even set up a nursery from where people can buy these new apple varieties called Anna and Dorset. These varieties being introduced require very less chilling hours compared to traditional varieties presently grown that required chilling hours between 800 to 1500 hours. Traditional varieties are not suitable for warm areas, but Anna and Dorset are suitable for warm areas.

 

According to Sharma the unique feature of the new variety of apples is that it ripens around June 10 along with mangoes and fetches very high price. No other variety of apples is there in the market at this point of time. Also this particular apple variety has a lot of juice in it and so is very useful not only for eating but for processing—juice, wine, canning etc.

 

During the past 7-8 years since starting his farm, many teams of horticulture experts, fruit growers and departmental officials have visited his apple orchard. Sharma also grows and sells saplings of other fruit items like mangoes, kiwi, strawberries, apricot, peach, plum, pecan nut, black pepper, lemon, litchi, avacado, orange, gauva and many more.

 

Maj. Harvansh K. Sharma (Retd) in his apple orchard at Itiben Nursery & Resort, near Dimapur.

 

During a short interaction with the media, Sharma shared his idea on how growing such fruits can help farmers generate a better livelihood and bring changes in the States’ economy.  For those interested in visiting or buying saplings, Itiben Nursery & Resort is located on NH-39, Khatkhati, Karbi Anglong, Assam. You can also find them on Facebook.

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