says the protagonist, Shahid, of the Bollywood movie Shahid. Read the article to find out why I have opened my article with the above quote.
The apples of Kashmir do not need any introduction. The stories of the taste of its divine fruit are popularly spread across the globe and thus, are in high demand, especially, in South Asia. Jammu and Kashmir is famous for producing a wide variety of apples which serves as a direct or indirect source of income for farmers. It is in the apple-picking season, which is from late July to October, that the actual joy of farmers can be seen. The green apple orchards, the dew drops on the fruits, and the sun kissed trees magnify their happiness with the beauty of Kashmir.
To keep the craze of apple farming intact and to nurture the productive growth of apple plantation, an US-educated Kashmiri born engineer, Khuram Shafi Mir, has taken revolutionary actions towards it. He is the son of a farmer from Penjoora village, district Shopian, who from an early age of 17 has been making efforts to enhance the plantation of world-class apples that ripen in the arms of Kashmir. His achievements begun from establishing a Control Atmosphere Store (CAS) in 2009. After working hard for 9 years to revive the apple industry of Kashmir, he finally set up a high-density apple orchard in June 2018 in Leh region.
Khuram, for a very long time, wanted to set up a high- density apple orchard, which is different from traditional orchards. A high-density orchard gets sunlight from all directions which helps the apples to ripen in same colour from all sides. The dream has finally taken a shape with the help of Ladakhi engineer, innovator and education reformist, Sonam Wangchuk, whose vision has served as a guiding star for Khuram’s ideas.
The high- density orchard, initiated by Khuram, has been set up in Phyang village of Jammu and Kashmir, 19 kilometres away from Leh at the university campus of Sonam Wangchuk’s initiative, namely, Himalayan Institute for Alternate Learning (HIAL). The plantation began with planting 264 trees of Gala Redlum, Red Vilox, Fuji and Golden Reaindeep apple varieties. Khuram mentions that they have changed three layers of barren soil successfully to ensure healthy plantation. And, thanks to Wangchuk, as his innovation of irrigating the orchard with the strong trellis system that receives water from “ice stupa”, has added more motivation to the initiative.
Nazi Ahmad, the horticulturist and head of the task force for high density plantation, has estimated that by 2050 the demand for apples in the world will reach up to 160 lakh metric tons. The current production is of 35 lakh metric tons. As per Ahmad, this is the perfect time to choose contemporary technique of high-density orchards over traditional orchards. Even the locals have begun to realise the importance of high-density apple orchard and have already adopted to it.
Khuram and Wanchuk are two Kohinoors (Diamond) of Kashmir. They continuously remind the youth about the necessity of education, the resulting economical and national growth that comes from it and the hard-work that eventually pays off. Khuram becomes an inspiration to generations for his vision as he takes revolutionary steps towards the development of his state and country altogether.
New Age Kashmir happily represents gems like Sonam Wangchuk, the great engineer who inspired the character of Phunsukh Wangdu in “3 Idiots”, and introduce sprouting personalities like Khuram Shafi Mir, who have over and over taught the lesson of hard-work and dedication.