Export Of Fruit From Kashmir Valley Down 30pc Due To Unrest23 September 2010
Srinagar: Export of fresh fruit from the Kashmir Valley to other parts of the country has been severely affected due to the ongoing civil unrest in the state, with consignments down by almost 30 per cent this year compared to last year. As many as 16,361 trucks loaded with fresh fruit were exported to other parts of the country from the Valley between April 1 to September 22 this year, Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Horticulture Sham Lal Sharma told reporters here. He said the number of consignments dispatched by truck last year between April 1 and September 30, 2009, was 23,819. Although there is still a week left to go before making an exact comparison between the two six-month periods, it is unlikely that the shortfall will be overcome. Sharma evaded a direct response to a question on whether the ongoing unrest in the Valley, which has seen normal life held to ransom for the last three-and-a-half months. Instead, he merely cited the 30 per cent dip in fruit exports. He said only 51 truck loads of fruit were exported in April this year, as against 65 last year. However, the numbers rose from 207 in May last year to 233 in the same month this year and 793 to 964 in June of each respective year. Exports in July, 2010, also recorded an increase of 542 trucks over the 2,195 consignments exported in the same month last year, an equal decrease was registered in the month of August. The situation was even worse in September, with only 7,060 trucks exported so far, as against 14,665 trucks in the same month of the previous year. An official of the horticulture department, while admitting that the strife had affected transport of fruits to some extent, said the drop was also due to below par crop yield this year in view of the unusual weather throughout the early part of the summer. 'During this summer, we had day temperatures which were 10 to 15 degrees lesser than the optimum. It naturally affects the fruit production,' the official added. The Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) had accused the state government of harming the interests of farmers by imposing a strict curfew during which they were not even allowed to pick or transport the fruit. CPI(M) State Secretary M Y Tarigami has asked the government to ensure that the fruit gets transported to markets outside the Valley and also to pay compensation to fruit-growers in case they suffered losses due to the ongoing unrest. After tourism, the horticulture industry is the backbone of the Valley and the annual turnover is to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore.