Pictures By Zargar Zahoor
Srinagar: Kashmir’s fruit industry is shrinking and dying due to Covid-19 pandemic and the continued restrictions, Valley based growers said in another “SOS” issued here.
In a letter written to J&K administration, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union and President of the New Kashmir Fruit Association, asked the government to make immediate arrangements for procurement of all varieties of Cherry from Mandi’s particularly Fruit Mandi Parimpora which is one of the largest Mandi after Delhi Mandi.
“Consider minimum support price of Rs. 100 per Kg, Daba of Cherry.”
“It is unfortunate that despite repeated follow-up at this end, the Government Administration has not come forward to rescue the poor Cherry Growers of the Valley.”
Cherry Season is now at its peak and about Rs 130-150 Crores is annual turnover of the crop.
“During the present Cherry season there are no buyers, marketing for cherry. It is only because of outbreak of Coronavirus and imposing of curfew like restriction within entire Country.” Though cherry crop is mouth watering fruit, there is no demand of it because of prevailing pandemic, he said.
“All varieties of cherry are presently available in all Mandi’s of the Valley particularly Fruit Mandi Parimpora Srinagar but it does not fetch even the actual expenses incurred not to speak of profits.”
There are more than (20) twenty canning unit owners who were lifting “Double Cherry” for canning purposes since several decades, he said. Even outside Canning Unit holders were also purchasing “Double Cherry” for Canning. “Height of thing is that only one Canning Owner is coming to Fruit Mandi Parimpora and lifts hardly 1% of total produce of Double Cherry that too against throwaway prices.”
In fact most of the Cherry Crop out of total produce is from “Makhmali” and “Mishri” varieties to the extent of 60% of the total produce and as per past practice since several decades these two varieties were sent to Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad and Delhi etc directed by air from Srinagar Airport and by Superfast Railway from Jammu/ Amritsar Railhead.
Since all Fruit Mandi’s of the Country were not fully functional for entire business in view of apprehension of spread of Coronavirus, the Airlines and Railway facilities were also not available. “Road Connectivity was restricted the cherry produce could not, therefore, dispatched for any station outside J&K (UT).”
Now the situation has improved to some extent and several Mandi’s like Delhi, Mumbai etc have now been allowed to resume their trade but there is no demand for Cherry, he said. “Though a little quantity of Cherry consignments is being dispatched into Mumbai but it does even not fetch actual expenses in return when Rs. 55/- to Rs.60/- per Kg with some other additional Charges are charged by Airlines Authorities as against Rs.27/- to Rs.30/- as paid previous Cherry season of 2019.”