SRINAGAR: After suffering losses due to various reasons in recent years, fruit growers in Kashmir are seeing a ray of hope as traditional apples fetch higher prices in the market this season.
The fruit growers from different parts of Kashmir told that the demand for traditional varieties has increased significantly from last year, resulting in hefty profits for farmers.
Javaid Ahmad, a fruit grower from the Pulwama district, claimed that compared to last year when they struggled to sell their produce and received minimal profits, this year, they have been receiving offers from fruit businesses to purchase their yield. Most orchards have received more than double the prices they received in the different apple Mandis last year, he said.
The growers said that swift and hassle-free government assistance has been instrumental in allowing easier transport of apple-laden trucks, which has resulted in better returns for the farmers. They said the traditional varieties like Kulu and Delicious have been selling particularly well, with high demand in different Mandis.
This outcome could be considered a significant boost for this industry, which has suffered massive losses in the past few years due to various circumstances, they said.
President of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union (KVFGCDU), Basheer Ahmad, while acknowledging that the production has reduced this year, assured that demand has been steady and strong so far.
“As of now, most of the traditional varieties have yet to be harvested and this trend shows no sign of dwindling. If demand remains high throughout the year, it would bring considerable relief for this critical industry,” he said.
On average, Kashmir produces over 20 lakh metric tons of apple annually, with figures sometimes going as high as 25 lakh metric tons. As per the 2017 economic survey of J&K, about half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry, with over 3.5 lakh hectares being under the cultivation of apples—(KNO)