Barely few miles away from Jammu city, Chatta farms boom with banana plants as the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine's biotechnology-driven project to grow the fruit in the region has become successful.
The project has brought commercial cultivation of banana in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in the history of agriculture.
The state is endowed with all kinds of fruits and is a net exporter to the rest of the country and abroad, but banana is imported here to the tune of Rs 200 crore per year.
"It is a big development for Jammu and Kashmir", Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) Director Ram Vishwahkarma told PTI.
"We have created a big economic opportunity for this region. If we can generate production of Rs 50 crore for next two to three years out of annual Rs 250 imports, it will be a big thing. It will create an economy and create employment opportunity," the director said.
In a 2-acre area of Chatta farm, 2,000 plants of Bhim Grand Naine (G-9) banana variety are booming, bringing happiness to a group of scientists led by Dr Rahul, who toiled hard for over a year for the commercial production of banana in Jammu.
"It was a dream come true for us. After facing many challenges and huge hurdles, we have been successful. It has opened a new economy opportunity for the region", Rahul said.
To bring commercial cultivation of banana to J&K, the CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine jointly conceived a new biotechnology driven programme. This work was jointly done by CSIR-IIIM, Jammu, and Cadila Pharmaceutical, Ahmedabad.
After full trial and established tissue culture and agriculture practice, the IIIM director launched the J&K-grown banana fruit last week.
The director said that the productivity in Jammu is more than rest of the states in the country and it is bigger in size and very good in flavour also.
"People can get an economy of Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 3 lakh per acre after deducting input from it", he said.
"There is huge lands available in Jammu. If people go for cultivation here it will not only generate revenue but will also reduce prices of bananas which are sold double than other states. We will try to introduce it as a social forestry in Shivalik ranges in Jammu with consultation with the forest department. It will also help check monkey menace in Jammu", he said.
While giving details of experimental work in growing the banana by tissue culture technique at IIIM, Vishwakarma said the samplings of the Bhim Grand Naine (G-9) variety were brought from Agro Division of Cadila Pharmaceutical Limited, Ahmedabad.
"This first cultivation trial was done by planting 2000 samplings of banana plants with the narrow spacing 2 X 2 meter in the month of August 2016 and fruit setting commenced in the month of July-August, 2017 while as the maturity and harvesting attained in 13 months", the director said.
"The plant grew to a height of 6.
5 to 7.5 feet and gave yield 20-30 kg per plant and 20-25 tonnes per acre. In term of economy involved, as per market analysis, price of banana in Jammu is approximately Rs 20 per kg. Thus on an average, 20-30 kg yield per plant gives Rs 250-300 per Banana plant", he said.
This crop will be particularly suit to Jammu region", Vishwahkarma said.
The directorsaid that the next target of IIIM is to introduce banana cultivation in Kashmir region through modern biotechnology approach (Polyhouses) which would be done in 2018.
In India, the most edible banana species are widely cultivated in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.
In total, more than 164,000 acres of land in India is under banana cultivation which makes the country first rank in banana production.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)