Srinagar, July 29: Amid the ongoing lockdown to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the apple growers in Kashmir have expressed apprehensions about the sector suffering huge losses like previous years.
The fruit growers from different areas of Kashmir told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that the ongoing lockdown and infection in Apple orchards of Kashmir has worried them saying they have already suffered huge losses post August 5 decision and unexpected snowfall last year.
“If markets and Mandis will continue to remain closed, we will suffer huge losses this year as well,” they said.
Mohammad Iqbal, an apple grower from South Kashmir’s Kulgam district said that the scab has already affected their apples this year and the continuous lockdown will certainly add to their miseries.
“In case the situation remains unchanged, our produce will get ruined like last year and the horticulture sector, being considered as the backbone of the economy in Kashmir will get crumbled,” he said.
The apple growers here have urged the government to take steps at earliest so that they can transport their produce to outside markets.
“The authorities should also take action against the substandard pesticide sellers due to which 30 per cent fruit has developed scab and other infections,” they said.
As per the data available shared by the officials in the Horticulture department, nearly 40 per cent of Valley’s population is associated with this sector and about 10,000 Crore rupees of Kashmir’s economy is dependent on the apple industry.
According to data about 70 per cent of the population in South Kashmir is associated with the horticulture sector and produces more apples than North and Central Kashmir.
Pertinently, the horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir has suffered huge losses due to untimely snowfall in the year 2018 and 2019 besides threat calls from suspected militants in the harvesting season after scrapping of Article 370 last year.
Data also reveals that in the year 2018, losses to horticulture sector due to untimely snowfall on November 03 was estimated at over Rs 500 Crore while as in the year 2019, losses to horticulture sector was estimated four times high than the year 2018.