Much ado about nothing!

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The disastrous floods of 2014 have undoubtedly cemented their place in the annals of Kashmir history. It brought the whole of Kashmir to a halt and standstill and the thoughts of that deadly night when water entered the homes of people are still haunt the people. And why not, after all it shook the very belief of Kashmiris and rattled some stereotypes as well apart from puncturing the tall claims of the administration. It took almost two months to sterilize the capital city and it dented the very image of sanitation and hygiene here.

The successive governments here have always and traditionally beaten the drums when tourism is halted a bit, rightly so, but when  it comes to an issue of the locals here, things aren’t expressed with same zeal.

Tourism in Kashmir has always been projected as the backbone of our economy, which is not true. Be it the local media or the national media, Kashmir Tourism, after Kashmir politics, has always been a priority for them. Let us not forget that almost eighty percent of the overall population here depends on agriculture and its allied fields like horticulture, apiculture, sericulture etc. But nobody seems to care, no one talks about it. It won’t be beating about the bush, if I say that the horticulture sector in Kashmir is in shambles and the apple growers have to borrow a hefty sum from the banks here to compensate their business.

An apple box sent to Delhi fetches around a sum of Rs. 600 to an apple grower, out of which, he pays a sum of Rs. 80 for the box, some bucks for the paper and straw, around a sum of Rs. 80 as fare, followed by toll tax, pesticides, manures, labour and 12% commission to the seller in Delhi, in case he has taken any advance. At the end of the day, if my calculations don’t go wrong, a fruit grower happens to earn a profit of around 70 to 80 Rupees per box, which is not too good a sum for him provided the fact that whole of his family for the entire year can be seen busy with the trade. On the contrary, a single kilogram of apple is sold for a sum of Rs, 100 (minimum) in Delhi which makes them earn a profit of Rs. 1200 approximately because an apple box contains at least 20 Kg apples. Now, the question is why are we working for the vendors of Delhi? And how shall we tackle this?

The answer perhaps lies both in the perception and experimentation. We must press our government to work for opening the routes to our neighboring countries so that there is a competition of rates when it comes to selling our apples. There is nothing wrong in it. All those who have visited the Azadpur Mandi Delhi must be aware of the fact that maximum of the buyers come from Bangladesh who buy our apples for a good sum. If the relations with Pakistan are hostile, what is wrong with opening the route to china, Nepal, Bangladesh? Also, many of us perhaps have never noticed that the rates in Delhi always fluctuate and never hang in balance which keeps a grower restless for the whole year and if the track record of the last few years is taken out, it will be proved that the prices have fallen marginally and good prices are around the corner only during the time of festivities like Dussehra and Diwali. Some people are of the belief that it is all a fixed match that is to say that “At the very onset of the financial year, the rates are fixed and it is decided as what is to be given to us”. This is proved by the fact that the fruit buyers in Delhi warn and warm the fruit growers a year in advance as to how healthy the market is going to be that year. Isn’t this very unbecoming of a market? The fact that we are bound to sell our fruit only in few states (within India) strengthens their noose around our necks and makes our economy rely on their taste. It is not the time to ponder but to act rather.

(The author is a former English Teacher and presently works as a banking associate in Jammu and Kashmir Bank BU Choora)

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