Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir achieved its highest-ever horticultural output last year, valued at Rs 3,500 crore, with more than 22 lakh metric tonnes of fresh and dry fruits produced during the 12-month period in the state.

"During last year, the annual turnover from horticulture was Rs 3,500 crore approximately, as the highest-ever fruit production of 22.20 lakh metric tonnes of fresh and dry fruits was achieved," State Horticulture Minister Sham Lal Sharma said.

He was replying to several questions about horticulture in the legislative council here on Tuesday.

Horticulture sector has been the backbone of the state's economy, as Kashmir is known for its apples, walnuts and almonds.

Other horticulture products grown in Kashmir include apricots, pears, plum, strawberry, cherries and saffron.

Horticulture production in the state witnessed an increase of over 5 lakh metric tonnes in 2010-11 compared to 2009-10, when the total produce of the state stood at 17.12 lakh metric tonnes.

Sharma said the higher level of horticulture production will be sustained if weather conditions remain favourable in the state.

The minister said 25,000 to 30,000 metric tonnes of apples, which mostly compromise fallen fruit and "C" grade apples and account for 30 per cent of total apple production, are processed to make juices and jams.

(Agencies)