Srinagar, Aug 9, CNS: In wake of current unrest, the fruit growers from Kashmir Valley may incur huge losses this year. According to reports it has become extremely difficult for the growers to take care of orchards and fetch the fruits to local markets.
Director Horticulture Rafiq Ahmed Hakim told CNS that the industry could be saved from incurring losses if growers will approach local markets along with the produce. The anxious fruit growers are trying their best to take care of their fruits however, the continuous shutdown coupled with curfew, restrictions and protests have make this job difficult for them.
“Where from you can take care of your orchards when there are no labourers available. Besides, the killings of civilians especially in rural areas have stopped fruit growers to work in the orchards. It is very difficult for us to avoid losses in these circumstances,” said a fruit grower.
The Valley based fruit growers said that if they leave the current situation aside, there is alredy considerable decline in the demand with the result the Kashmir fruit has been selling at prices almost 50 per cent lower than the last year.
They said besides low demand there were many other reasons responsible for sharp decline in fruit prices. “Due to untimely and incessant rains earlier this year, the crop was largely destroyed and the fruit, especially apple and pear, were hit by diseases like Scab and black dots.”
They added the demand for Kashmiri fruit had decreased by 50 per cent in India as compared to preceding year.
The fruit growers said as compared to last year when the Delicious (a variety of apple) was sold at Rs 600 per case in outside mandis, “presently it sells at Rs 300 to 350.” “Similarly,” he said, “American (another variety) that was sold at Rs 400 a box last year, is presently fetching Rs 150 to Rs 200/box. Besides C-grade fruits are sold at merely Rs 50 per box.”
Besides, they said, due to the prevailing unrest in Kashmir, currently fruits had to be dispatched outside during night time, “which is quite a difficult task. “Owing to this, we cannot send our fruits to the desired destinations since we are not able to get vehicles from the same place under prevailing circumstances. “Still we are hoping for the best. If situation normalizes may be we will get the results of our hard labour,” they said. (CNS)