Srinagar: In the backdrop of ‘substandard’ pesticides being sold, the apple industry in Kashmir has suffered major losses this year. Fruit growers in the state peg the loss to as high as 80 per cent. This year has particularly been harsh for Kashmir, as it has been hit by misfortunes. A clampdown by the state apparatus, early snowfall, no rainfall in the autumn season, and finally sale of fake pesticides by shopkeepers dealth a huge blow to the industry.
A-Grade apples are rarely available in the orchards of Budgam district this year, as most of the product has been spoiled thanks to fake pesticides, and also partially due to the dust produced by a dry spell due to lack of rains. While thethe fruit is being harvested across the Kashmir valley, most of the Apple growers are disappointed this time. Climate change has played a major part in the economic upset that has transpired.
In Budgam district of Central Kashmir, apple growers feel that they will have to sell their produce in bulk to the hawkers as such products cannot go outside in packs. Apple is cultivated on 164,742 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir, which produces over 1.8 million (18,82,319 Approx) metric tons of the fruit annually. The apple industry is worth around Rs.8000-9000 crore including employment generation. Kashmir is known for its apples, and it produces 75 per cent of the the total production in India.
Farmers also allege that during the lockdown, traders sold substandard pesticides which spoilt almost 80% of apple production. “I was expecting 80-90 % of A-Grade apples this year, but unfortunately I will get 20% only. It is very bad for our business as we are already suffering due to continuous lockdowns,” said Tariq Ahmad who hails from Budgam district.
Not only apple farmers, but even local contractors who take apple orchards from the growers on a rate-cut for the yea, have suffered heavy losses during the current season. “ I have purchased several apply orchards in Budgam district by taking a loan from the bank. The kind of products available in these orchards this time will make me suffer financially,” said Ghulam Qadir, who has purchased orchards to sell the produce in markets outside.