‘Apple produce worth crores set to rot if lockdown continues’

Hailstorm damages Apple crop in Kashmir

SRINAGAR — The apple growers in Jammu and Kashmir have expressed concern that their produce may get rotten in the cold storage units if there is no relaxation in the continuing lockdown in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

The apple growers said that their produce has started to rot in the cold storage units as they were unable to sell them due to the present lockdown.

They said that they were unable to transport their produce from Kashmir valley to other fruit mandis across the country in view of the lockdown.

Subzar Ahmad, a grower from Shopian district said that he has stored around 1000 apple boxes in cold storage unit at Lassipora and he is worried as they have started to get rotten.

“We usually keep A grade apples in cold storage chains and then transport it to different markets in Spring and would earn handsome money but this year the produce has started to get rotten due to the continuous lockdown,” he said.

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He said that they have to pay Rs 25 to 30 per month for each apple box kept in cold storage unit and if they were not able to sell the produce, they will incur huge losses.

Nawaz Ahmad, another fruit grower said that somehow he managed to take few trucks outside the valley but they were forced to return back on seeing all mandis closed across India.

He said that they paid 30 thousand rupees to truck owners as fare and later kept their produce again in the cold storage unit.

According to official sources, 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple was stored in cold storage units in valley and among them, 80% of produce is still lying in cold storage units.

As per experts, apples that have been stored in cold storage units would fetch around 1000 crore to growers and if apples will get rotten, it will incur huge losses.

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Pertinently, horticulture sector has already suffered a huge loss due to the clampdown after abrogation of Article 370 and untimely snowfall in 1st week of November last year.

Growers urged the authorities to look into the matter and facilitate them in transporting their produce to different mandis located across the country.

Horticulture industry is the backbone of the union territory’s economy and the minimal revenue turnover it provides is about Rs 8,000 crore and more than 33 lakh individuals are involved in the sector at its various stages.

The horticulture industry has around 1,44,825 hectares under apple cultivation in ten district of the valley. Government records reveal the average annual apple production in the valley is 18 lakh metric tons.

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