SRINAGAR: The fruit growers in the north and central Kashmir suffered losses as they could not sell their cherry produce in the outside markets this year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the cherry growers of Shopian who harvested their yield a bit later and were able to sell their produce at higher rates.
Bashir Ahmad Bashir, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union, told this newspaper that the cherry growers in the Valley suffered losses this year due to the closure of markets during the lockdown.
The Valley’s annual cherry production is about 13,000-14000 metric tonnes. Cherry is mainly produced in Srinagar, Laar and Ganderbal in central Kashmir, some parts in north Kashmir, and Shopian in south Kashmir.
The farmers of north and central Kashmir had transported their product to markets outside the Valley but there were hardly any takers for it, said Bashir.
Also, only 10-15 per cent of the cherry was canned while the rest got damaged.“The canning factories were also closed due to the lockdown,” he added. However, the cherry growers of Shopian were able to sell their products as they harvested their crops a bit later.
Fruit Growers and Dealer Association Shopian president Mohammad Ashraf Wani said they opened the fruit market on May 27 and the growers in Shopian did not face any transportation problem.
“The fruit growers were able to transport their produce to markets outside Kashmir, where demand was higher as produce from the north and central Kashmir had not reached the markets.”
Shopian annually produces 4,000 to 5,000 metric tonnes of cherry. Wani said since the demand was high, the rates were higher than in previous years.