Faizan Khurshid

Import of Iranian apples, hurdles in smooth movement worry Kashmir apple growers

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Admin takes steps for smooth movement of apple-laden trucks

Sopore: Apple growers in Kashmir valley are agitated with the import of low cost apples from Iran and accuse it of declining demand of their production.

Kashmir produces nearly 80% of India’s total apple production and nearly one million families are associated with Kashmir’s $1.25-million apple industry.

“Iran’s apples are imported at very cheap rates which reduces demand of our harvest,” says Abdul Ahad Malik, fruit distributor at Sopore Fruit Mandi.

“I want to ask the government, when Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir have abundant production of apples, why do you need to import apples from other countries,” Malik added.

“Last year we sold one apple box for Rs 1000 but this year we hardly get Rs 500 per box. The growers are so annoyed that they are even considering not to pluck apples from trees,” says Mushtak Ahmad Dar, fruit grower from Sopore, Baramulla.

Due to huge production of apples in the region, Kashmir houses Asia’s second largest fruit mandi at Sopore spread over 370 kanals of land.

“Apple industry is our backbone, it’s our only source of income. Allah forbid, if this industry faces more issues, we will be forced to beg and starve,” says Abdul Majeed Lone, fruit distributor at Sopore Fruit Mandi.

Fruit growers also accuse traffic department of stopping their fruit-laden trucks on National Highway resulting in damage to the fruits and delay in reaching outside markets.

“Because of frequent closure of National Highway, our fruit rot and face huge loses,” says Abdul Ahad Malik, adding, “Despite paying taxes, our convoys are halted on way. We don’t earn much, feel worried and are at the verge of suicide.”

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta has impressed upon concerned officers to ensure smooth movement of the fruit laden trucks on National Highway. He has ordered the passage of fruit laden trucks on the National Highway be given due priority over other vehicles.

Taking note of the issue, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Traffic, Vikramjit Singh has directed all the SSPs of traffic to take immediate necessary measures to ensure smooth passage to the fruit laden trucks.

To ensure full transparency, IGP Traffic has asked the Horticulture Department and Horticulture associations to depute their representative with Traffic officials at Banihal and Qazigund for ensuring smooth movement of fruit trucks.

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