Budgam:The time to harvest the Plum has arrived and the orchards of Budgam nowadays wear a festive look. The produce is ready to be sold, some sold in advance and is getting ready for transporting to cold storage adding shelf life.
Even though Plums are cultivated in every district of Kashmir but orchards in Bagati Kanipora and Chadoora of Budgam district belt are Plum rich.“Like previous year high yield of best quality plums are in great demand,” an orchardist commented.
Farmers and dealers are expecting a good business this year.
Bashir Ahmad Ganie, an orchardist, said, this season the fruit is in abundance but the size is a smaller than previous year.
“They less downpour has effected the size,” Ganie claimed.
In order to get plentiful crop farmers use several sprays and pesticides in their orchards atleast thrice in a year.
“Hopefully the production from last few years is good so that besides being able to pay off the expenditures incurred we get a good income,” Ganie said.
July and August are considered as best time for plum availability due to low shelf life of this fruit.
Dealers to overcome the lesser shelf life of the fruit have started shifting the fruits to the Lassipora cold stores.
“Earlier farmers would do packaging in orchards but now the trend of packing has made its shift to Lassipora stores,” Mohammad Khalil, farmer confided.
“Helps in searching a good buyer and pack the food in no hurry.”
Farmers confided that since they begun listening to experts and started using recommended pesticides the yields have manifolded.
“We go for four consecutive sprays in a year and use best ever pesticides for high yield production and quality fruit,” said an orchardist, Sajad Ahmad Malik.
However they complained that the horticulture department should step up its help to farmers so that they can further the production of he Plum.
“They should be continuously advising us when and which spray to use for high yield and damage free fruit.” they demanded.
Most of the farmers sell their fruit on the spot before plucking but some farmers are compelled to pick and pack their fruits by their own and supply to their dealers.
“This process of supplying fruits to their supposed dealers had distressed farmer fraternity of getting insufficient returns on their fruits,” the group of plum farmers claimed.
A farmer, Ghulam Ahmad Bhat said that, for the proper maintenance of our orchards and time to time sprays farmer needs money. Due to low income most of the farmers are compelled to get advance payments from dealers for which a farmer is supposed to sell his fruits to those dealers only ‘and on low compromised costs’.
He claimed that selling fruit to dealers on the base of getting advance payments from them is what makes a farmer distraught. “If there would be any government assistance for farmers like us we are sure that we can get the satisfactory returns on selling fruit by our own and could improve our living standard too,” Bhat claimed.
Chief Horticulture Officer Budgam, P K Ambardar the contentions raised regarding the financial assistance are ‘baseless’.
Ambarkar referred to Kissan Credit Card (KCC) scheme which is particularly meant to cater the farmers and other orchardists by which they get loans to bear the expenses.
“Horticulture department publishes its advisory in the month of February. The information regarding spraying, proper maintenance of fruit and orchards is duly publicised. The department issues posters, booklets, schedules, and organizes various radio and TV programs from time to time in order to create general awareness regarding the maintenance of orchards,” Ambarkar said.
Ambardar refuted claims that they are callous in their approach to support the famers, he said that whenever any problem faced by farmers comes to their notice, officials do visit the orchards and conduct fruit tests.
“Whenever farmers have issue regarding the crop they must report it to the concerned offices and the department will offer them every possible support. Without informing the department how can we know what going on in orchards. We are here to help, they should inform us,” Ambarkar said.