Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Traditional Fruits of Kashmir

Iqbal calls for vibrant traditional fruit culture

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 51, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numastics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Reviving the traditional fruit culture of Kashmir

Kashmir has rightly been described as" the land of fruits. Its land environment and climate has pro­vided greater facilities for horticulture in­dustry to grow more rapidly. Today we see in this valley scores of varieties of apple, pearl, Baggu Gosha, Walnut, several types of Cherry and other fruits which are grown and exported to other states.

The, apparently, growing fruit industry has changed the social and economic status of our rural Kashmir and helped its people in reshaping their economy, to some extent. However, in the race of cultivating commercialized fruits, the land has been losing several varieties of century’s old traditional fruits.

The fruit growers here have neglected their traditional fruit culture and are dealing with more commercial ones which yield them quick benefits but not without a huge price. Steps are needed to be taken to encourage culti­vation of traditional fruits of Kashmir side by side with the more commercialized ones.

It is better to promote the indigenous fruit culture of this land as the fruit Industry, nowadays, has been playing a vital role in developing the economy of the valley. The commercial fruits are fetching a good income for the Kashmiri farmers and the trend has changed the life standards of Kashmiri villages. At many places the local farmer has discontinued the tradition of rice cultivation and has grown orchards on their agricultural lands. The superior qualities and verities of apple and pear orchards are coming up on agricultural lands which have changed the life standard of an average farmer.

Thanks to the new horticulture researches which have paved a way for the Kashmiri farmers to produce better quality of commercial fruits.

Knowing all this, we should not neglect those traditional fruits which this land has been producing from ancient times. We should also provide due space to those traditional fruits and revive their cultivation on our vacant lands. Although these may have less production and demand, but they very well suit our environment.

As we all know that the cli­mate of Kashmir is such that it does not favor particular fruits which require warmer conditions to grow, we must understand that fruits which suit the environs here are to be grown in abundance.

To suit to its moderate climate and cold atmosphere the nature has be­stowed this land with a variety of fruit cultures. The fruit cultivations which this land has been facilitating included Dhachh (grapes) Gilas (cherry) Baadam (Almound) and Chounth (Apple). Therefore, by promoting their cultivation we can do well to our environment as well. Chira (apricot) and Bahu which were cultivated in the mountainous belts of the valley suited the conditions are therefore were grown in abundance in such areas.

Besides these traditional fruit, the land is capable of yielding good produce of walnut, apple and pear. Such fruits have been so favored that theyare pro­duced in dozens of varieties, the Delicious & Naakh varieties have also gained a wide market and are being exported heavily to the other Mandies of the country.

Among the ancient fruits of valley, Gilas is believed to have been brought to Kashmir from Turkistan. They would call it ‘Cerasus’ and it is said that locutus (110 BC to 57 BC). The Roman general of the Sulla and Governor of Roman Asia carried a variety of this fruit to Italy. Indo Greeks are suggested to have brought it to Kashmir. However, the present va­riety of this fruit is not so old and it is said to have been imported from Kabul during the Mughal period.

Another ancient fruit of this landis called Dachh (grapes). The fruit has been cultivated since early centuries of the Christen era, one of the motifs devised on the 2nd cen­tury tiles of valley is of branches of grapes which clearly suggest that the cultivation of the fruit has been in vogue in valley much dur­ing the period and the motif has been familiar among the artists of the day. These tiles which carried the motifs of this fruit is dated to 2nd century AD and discovered from the the budhist site of Dardkote Hutmur.

The Cherra & Baadam apricot and almonds are both categorized into the group of dry fruits which are grown here in a larger scale.

These fruit were also exported to other Asian and European Countries. Baadams are grown in considerable quantity while as Khobani is now grown in the parts of Ladakh. Baadam once became the identity of Kashmir and the motif has been very popular among maxi­mum designers and is displayed on a variety of Kashmir artifacts more specifically on Kashmir textile and metal Works.

The number of traditional fruits has gradually been decreasing. The land has already lost several olden almond and apricot orchards. Many places in Kashmir were named after such fruits like Dachigam, Dachinpur Baadam Bagh, Buadfimari, Baadam Put etc. Alas! It is now confined to names alone while the fruits have subsequently disappeared from such places.

Kashmiri cultivator has been following the modern trends and techniques in both agriculture and horticulture. He is preferring the varieties of commercial fruit's like Pears and Apples after discarding the indigenous types as these fruit have helped culti­vators to earn considerably well and attention has been divested on other commercialized varieties of such fruits.

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