Farmers say they face multiple challenges, incur heavy losses this year
Srinagar Sep 29 (KINS): Kashmir’s apple industry which is the backbone of the region’s economy is facing multiple challenges with farmers claiming they faced heavy losses this year.
Official figures accessed by news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS) reveal that around 45 lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent on apple production.
According to figures, Kashmir apple industry is around Rs 10,000 crore and produces 2 million tones of apple every year.
However, the apple industry is going through tough times these days. The latest was when thousands of trucks laden with apples were halted on the highway for days. It was only after fruit growers held protests the administration allowed the trucks to ply on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
“Apple industry is facing multiple challenges. We had earlier unfavorable weather conditions when dryness prevailed for weeks in Kashmir. Now we are suffering losses in crores as the quality of apples deteriorates after apple trucks remain stranded for days together on the highway,” Farooq Ahmad, a fruit dealer, told news agency KINS.
Fruit growers on Monday shut down Mandis in Kashmir for two days in protest against the disruption of traffic along with the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families according to government figures are directly or indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes over eight percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation, the figures say.
Mehraj Ahmad, a 55-year-old farmer from Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district said over 40 percent of apple trees in his orchard have withered due to dry temperature and influx of pests this year.
“The reduced precipitation in March and April has largely impacted our crop. These were months when adequate precipitation was sorely needed. The early rise in temperature in March which also led to early sprouting of fruits. Then in April, there was a sudden dip in temperature. We could not irrigate the orchard which led to the drying of trees. The erratic weather conditions have largely hit crop production this year,” he said.
“I sold apples for Rs 4 lakh this year. Had there been adequate precipitation this year, I would have earn at least Rs 7 lakh,” he said, who owns 1 ½ hectares of land. (KINS)