Apple production, considered to be the backbone of the economy in Kashmir valley has reduced to 50 per cent compared to the last year due to unfavourable weather conditions and scab disease.
Talking to UNI, Abdul Qayoom Dar, a fruit grower of central Kashmir’s Charar-e-Sharief town said that scab disease engulfed the fruit trees after unseasonal rains in July month this year at a time when buds were blossoming on the trees fully.
Dar said the necessary pesticides were used to overcome the scab disease as per the directions of the horticulture department, but the blossomed buds start to fall to a great extent from the trees that caused less production this year.
However, he believes that demand in the market and the high rates would fulfill their coffers satisfactorily.
Dar said this year the demand for fruits in the market is very high as compared to last year and advance orders have been pouring from outside the state ahead of the harvest.
He said that the Babugosha pear one box being supplied at Rs 800-1100 as compared to the last year it was sold for just Rs 300-500. He said the Babugosha pear is being only supplied to Delhi mandi.
Dar said that buyers are visiting the Charar-e-Sharief fruit mandi from Mumbai, Banglore, Delhi and other states who also export them to America, Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries. He said that buyers from Bangladesh and Nepal are also visiting here to book their orders for Apple to sell them in their respective countries.
He said that last year fruit growers suffered tremendous loss due to road connectivity problems and fruit truck loads were left stranded for days on the highway due to unsupportive weather and other incidents. But this year they are hopeful such things would not happen and authorities would make all necessary arrangements for the smooth flow of fruit laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for their onward journey to the capital.
He said that due to less production this year the rate of fruits will go high in the markets.
He said that last year during this period of the season, 10 to 15 truck loads of Babugosha pears used to move from here to Delhi mandi every day. But this year due to less production only 2 to 3 truck loads are available here in Charar-e-Sharief mandi that are being exported to Delhi.
Mohammad Amin a fruit growers from the apple rich town of south Kashmir’s Shopian district also admitted that weather vagaries and scab casts the production this year. He said hail storms also played havoc at places that also reduced the production this year.
However Amin said that in the low belt areas of the Shopian district the fruit production is satisfactory. He also alleged that substandard pesticides also played a part for the low production of the fruits.
Amin said that high density Gala Apple fruit are fetching good prices in the market and there is an encouraging demand from the buyers across the valley and outside.
He said that besides supplying the Kashmiri Apple to Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it is also likely to make entry to Saudi Arabia and Dubai markets. He said even Kashmir Apple is ready to compare with the Washington USA Apple for its unmatched taste, look and shape.
In reply to a question, Amin said, Iranian Apple’s entry into the Indian markets had an effect on the sale of Kashmiri Apple. However, he said the authorities should impose customs duty on their import to save the Kashmiri Apple.
Horticulture officer of Pulwama district in south Kashmir, Javid Ahmad told UNI that cold weather conditions during April and rains in July caused the scab disease to the fruit trees and that could be the main reason for low production this year.
The Horticulture officer said that “scab is a fungal disease and it is caused due to the increased humidity”.
He said that normal pesticide sprinkle on the fruit trees sometimes did not affect perfectly as it needs some more chemicals to be added for acquiring good results.
He said that mostly the fruit growers spray trees in the morning and in the evening the weather plays spoilsport causing rain that washes away the chemical from the tree reducing its effect.
Javid said that the Horticulture department is continuously providing necessary tips to the growers for spraying the trees and appropriate timing.
He said that Horticulture has a wing that guides the fruit growers where to export their crop which will help them to get good rates.
He said the weather is the main cause for the less production this year in Kashmir valley.