Lockdown hits cherry growers in Kashmir
Srinagar: While restriction to contain Covid-19 pandemic continue and all spheres of life are badly hit, people associated with fruit industry are the worst sufferers as their ripe cherry crop have rotten in orchards due to the non-availability of transport.
The shut-down of local markets too has hit them hard.
Come June, Kashmir’s sweetest cherry is picked and packed and ferried to different markets across India. But, this year, the situation was different.
“Lockdown restrictions amid pandemic crises killed our business and crop. June is the peak season for the valley growers to pluck cherry and send it to the different markets across the Indian plains and other parts of the world. But given the lockdown, desirous transport is not available and our fruit is destined to rot,” said President Kashmir Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, Fruit Mundi Sopore Fayaz Ahmed Malik alias Kakaji.
“Frequently our trucks are being stopped despite repeated requested to administration and those at helm of affairs that cherry has very limited shelf-life and its transportation should not be hindered,” he added.
“Most of our cherry production is stockpiled at our homes and is rotting. Government and concerned department should help us in tough hours by granting us compensation and decrease interest rates of loans,” a grower, M Akbar said.
Fruit growers of valley complain that lack of storage infrastructure coupled with official apathy add to their woes and they have to face the burnt.
“Kashmir is the largest cherry producing state in India with a production of almost 638 tones. Fruit growers of valley were expecting that current year with bumper crops of cherry would compensate their previous losses but destiny had something else stored for us,” said Mohmmad Ayaz Malla another grower.