September 2016 News

Violence In J&K Valley Bruises Kashmiri Apple

2 September 2016
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: The horticulture sector of Kashmir adds a revenue of around Rs. 8000 crore annually to the J&K state economy. But the chances of achieving this target seems grim this year owing to street violence across Kashmir in the last two months. Fruit growers say that fruit, particularly apple, has started decaying in orchards because they are unable to pick the crop from the trees. Bashir Ahmad Baba, president of Fruit Growers and Dealers Association of Charar-e-Sharief, told TOI that the pear already took a hit as buyers from Delhi fruit 'mandi' could not visit Kashmir to purchase the same. 'Whatever consignment we could dispatch got stranded due to violence along the highway in the beginning of August and truckloads of pear decayed on the way,' said Baba. Hundreds of wholesalers and exporters from Delhi Azadpur Mandi would visit seven fruit markets at Srinagar, Sopore, Baramulla, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam and Charar-e-Sharief in September. 'Around this time, varieties of apple including Hazratbali apple are generally sold but we are pessimistic about any buyers arriving this year,' he said. 'Our other worry is that we are unable to get pesticides for our trees,' said Baba, who heads Kashmir Fruit Growers Association as well. According to secretary, horticulture department, Mohammad Hussain Malik, at the moment 100 odd truckloads of apples are going to Delhi mandi every day. 'The real apple season commences from September 10. We are worried whether 700 to 800 trucks would be able to go daily from here or not,' he said. However, Baba said the figures provided by the state government are false. The prevailing condition in the Valley has substantially reduced the number of fruit trucks sent outside Kashmir, he claimed. Chairman of Kashmir Fruit Growers Association, Bashir Ahmed, alleged that the security forces stopped truckloads of fruits at different entry points four daysago.