|Satyanand Stokes. Twitter|
Apple orchards were first established in Kotgarh and Kullu and Stokes Chose Dhana Dhar Kotgarh area better suitable for the growth of large number of trees. He also imported different apple varieties suitable to that region and made a new approach to their cultivation. Some British variety of apples already growing in the region were neither good in taste nor were popular. The first apple tree in this country was planted by one Capt. R.C. Lee of the British army in the Kullu valley in 1870.The apples he planted were the Newton Pippins, King of Pippin and the Cox s Orange Pippin, but unfortunately their sour and tangy taste discouraged the Indian farmers and they did not go for the cultivation of these English varieties.
So, choosing a new strain of apples suitable to this region that would be commercially successful became his first step. On a visit to to Philadelphia in 1914, he surveyed the apple plants growing there and he brought some apple cuttings with him on his return which he planted near his house. To follow it through in the next couple of years or more, he tried as many as 33 varieties of apples to determine which would be most suitable for the area. Finally, the choice fell on the American Delicious variety which had a name in the US. It was quite popular in the NW State of Washington. Incidentally, when the delicious saplings from Washington state arrived here, Mrs Agnes received it and plated the saplings on their land as Stokes was jailed in 1921 by the British for his protest against the visit of Prince of Wales in Punjab. Later, Upon satisfied with the results of the new variety on his own land, he advised others to try the variety.
The crux of his problem was convincing the local farmers to switch over to apple trees and further their response was very discouraging because of long gestation period. He gave them free saplings and patiently convinced them once the apple trees started bearing fruit, there would be no additional seasonal work. The tree would keep bearing fruits seasonally.At last, the farmers became convinced about planting apple trees in their land. The rest is history!
Samuel, having done considerable research on apple trees and their suitability to his farm lands he himself improved, the farmland he had purchased. His work in 1916, led him to conclude that the a new strain of apples developed by the Stark brothers of Louisiana, USA would be an ideal choice for the the Shimla Hills and began cultivating them on his farm. His efforts were successful resulting bumper crops, beefed-up by Samuel's contact with the white people who ran the export business in Delhi. This encouraged the other farmers to follow suit and Samuel guided in very conceivable way. He bought more lands with a view to growing apple cultivars which the villagers would use to seed their own farms. Stokes, as well planned improved the quality of life of the farmers and their overall cooperation and efforts gave a boost to the local economy. Unfortunately, outside Himachal Pradesh, not many people are aware of the legacy of this great man, who has been rightly bestowed with the title of The Economic Emancipator of The Hills.
01. It was only after 1950 that apple production gained momentum. In 1950, 712 hectares of land were under apple production but, now 1.3 lakh hectares are under apple production in the form of big orchards in Himachal with Shimla district accounting for major production.
02. The apple industry caters to 6 lakh apple growers in 10 districts accounting for produces worth more than Rs. 2500 crores.
03. Kinnauri apple is famous globally because of its quality.
04. Because of global warming and its impact on production the apple belt is shifting to upper areas in Kullu Valley with tribal people in Lahaul & Spiti districts.