Sweet chestnuts is very profitable crop with a high export potential and fetches about 650 rupees per kg at present apple nutrition label

Grandchildren and the parents in our family relished the sweet chestnut during month of previous december a number of times till stock lasted at jammu. Nuts were sought and got from the faquir gujjari, dara srinagar on request. Calendar of the jammu and kashmir bank for the month of september 2016 had carried impressive picture of the sweet chestnut. While it attracted the attention of the beholder at the very same time evoke the query about it. Since one thing was sure that it must be of the state as bank carries picture of the state exclusively lately now. Grandson approached this writer to identify the nut and where it is found. Mere a glance on the picture and did so with ease for that matter any kashmiri can do so. And very few non kashmiris know about it beyond south of banihal pass. I apprised him that it is sweet chestnuts in kashmiri language called panjaeb gaier.

Countered that gaier are water chestnut in hindi called sangarhdas never grow on trees but are water borne.Faquir gujjari where from panjaib gaier came to kashmir and named so .Punjab does not have such like nuts at all. Reminded him that anything alien in kashmiri language is referred nonlocal either panjaeb or parim. Punjab gaer means nuts of outside origin is an edible sweet tasty seed brown in colour, white kernel. A few years back had taken family to faquir gujjari in particular the grandson to acquaint him with the cherry orchards. So was not difficult to give make them to understand where its orchard stands.

This writer had visited the government orchard way back in 1990 while passing through it on way to faquir gujjari a tribal basti. This tree got introduced in zaberwan hills of kashmir by maharaja partap singh during mid-19th century. British introduced it widely in the summer hill-stations in northern india to a lesser extent in bhutan and nepal in the temperate parts of the colonial rule. A rare autumnal delicacy eagerly sought after patiently waiting its arrival in the market to relish despite the cost.Chestnut castanea unlike most commercial nuts which contain relatively large amounts of protein, it consist of up to 70% starch, between 2 and 5 % fat and only 2 to 4 % protein. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients that immensely benefit health vitamin-C other minerals such as potassium copper and, magnesium, amino acids, and antioxidants required for matrix formation in teeth, bones and blood vessels. Chestnuts are also low in kidney stone-forming oxalate compound with less than 85 mg per 100 g, in comparison to other nuts. Sweet chestnuts is very profitable crop with a high export potential and fetches about 650 rupees per kg at present. Begin to bear in only 3-5 years, and by 10 years can produce as much as 10-20 lbs/tree. At maturity (15-20 years) they can produce as much as 50-100 lbs/tree or up to 2,000-3,000 lbs/acre each year. Chestnut flowers are not self-compatible, so two trees are required for pollination due to several reasons it do not graft well planting recommend a 30’x30’ (54 trees per acre) or 40’x40’ (25 trees per acre) spacing for planting.Faquir gujjari while himachel pardesh seem to have introduced it much later than us but has taken great stride ahead leaving us just at baseline. Although department has a large mixed apple cum sweet chestnuts a orchard at new theed harwan srinagar. Every year sweet chestnut trees along with other fruit trees are regularly auctioned. Department of horticulture seem to have no scheme of things to propagate its crop beyond its orchard. A few locals have planted trees in dara, faquir gujjari, lately though entire zaberwan range, compatible strata and climate do exist in the valley and entire pir panjal range it appears so. Way back in 1998 it was given to understand that it has been tried in poonch area on the experimental basis. But at present there is nothing forth coming about the experiment as if it was never attempted at all .With regard to any statical data to rely upon about it from the directorate of horticulture kashmir has not been forth coming despite assurances to provide on a half a dozen times.Female flowers I learned from a research scholar from kashmir university is said to have done tissue culture propagation, that nothing is known much about it. The valley also has a wild variety of this fruit known as horse chestnut or haan-doon which is light brown and is reported to be toxic and not fit for human consumption.

Sweet chestnuts plantation has not been allowed to play a constructive role in the state is worth to ponder. This could have provided incremental income to the underprivileged section of the society as it is the plant of the hills. Whole europe, great britain, most of the parts in america both north and south china and japan cultivate it. Why our state lacks it the concerned department owes an explanation. Sweet chestnut (castanea sativa ) belongs to the species of the flowering plant in the family fagaceae (beech family) widely cultivated throughout the temperate world. Actually asia minor origin in latin sativa means cultivated by humans has four main species are the japanese chestnut (castanea crenata), the chinese chestnut (castanea mollissima), the american chestnut (castanea dentata), and the european chestnut (castanea sativa) along with several minor species.Chestnut castanea common names include "spanish chestnut", "portuguese chestnut" and "marron" (french for "chestnut"). In corsica, a mountainous mediterranean island, sweet chestnuts were once used as a currency. Sweet chestnut is thought to have been introduced to the british isles by the romans is a large and handsome tree that can get 100 ft tall with a crown spread of about 50 ft. The oblong-elliptic leaves, to 8 in long, and has coarse marginal teeth and prominent veins. The flowers are in showy spike like creamy yellow catkins. The fruit is a prickly burr enclosing 1-5 nuts each 0.5-1 in diameter. Cultivars selected for nut quality and adaptation to different regions and growing conditions. After pollination by insects, female flowers develop into shiny red-brown fruits wrapped in a green, spiky case. The trees begin to bear fruit when they are about 5-6 years old.Chestnut castanea the flower of both sexes are borne in 10–20 cm long, upright catkins , the male flowers in the upper part and female flowers in the lower part. In the northern hemisphere, they appear in late june to july, and by autumn, the female flowers develop into spiny cupules containing 3-7 brownish nuts that are shed during october. The female flowers eventually form a spiky sheath that deters predators from the seed. It has been cultivated for more than 3000 years. It begins to bear fruits in 3-5 years’ time after planting in general but it has been found as per records that most fruit trees and berries produce fruit within 1-2 years after planting under ideal conditions can live to more than 2,000 years of age the poetically-named " hundred-horse chestnut " in eastern sicily . One of the most famous ancient sweet chestnuts in europe, still growing in sicily, though only a remnant of its former self, is known as ‘the tree of one hundred horses’.Faquir gujjari said to be the stoutest tree ever recorded, it measured an astonishing 204 feet (68m) in girth in 1770 and is thought to be between 2 and 4,000 years old. It is believed that the ancient greeks were the first to introduce and cultivate chestnuts in the mediterranean region about 3.000 years ago. The romans were later responsible for extending the cultivation into northwest and central europe, and it is thought that the latin name castanea originated from the town of castanea in the roman empire where the tree was especially common. The greek army is said to have survived their retreat from asia minor in 401-399 B.C. Thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Alexander the great and the romans planted chestnut trees across europe during their various campaigns. It is said that roman soldiers were given a porridge made from sweet chestnuts before going into battle.