Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo on Friday (September 16) directed the concerned authorities to take immediate measures so that fruit laden trucks are provided a smooth passage. He rightly asked police and traffic authorities to provide round the clock and hassle-free safe passage to the fruit laden trucks on the interior roads and Srinagar-Jammu highway on priority basis and avoid unwarranted stoppages enroute.
Also importantly, he directed the concerned authorities to monitor the fruit transportation on daily basis. By doing so, he shared the concern of the apple growers that the commodity is perishable and needs hassle free passage of movement from Kashmir valley. In fact the government must ensure all measures for early, prompt and remunerative marketing of the merchandise.
With J&K being the biggest producer of apples in this part of the globe, followed by Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, thousands of people are directly and indirectly dependent on it for their livelihoods.
Apple is a popular fruit that remains in demand throughout the year. Of late, the indigenous apple industry literally grapples to stay afloat and as such needs support to sustain various odds and in such a scenario the government’s intervention becomes crucial rather than the choice.
Apple growers in Kashmir face multiple issues including least demand coupled with the increase in the cost of boxes and other packaging material in contemporary times. Damage to the produce by halting the vehicles for days together as claimed by traders should be unacceptable to the government being a welfare state.
The intervention by the administration is surely needed to help proper incomes of the J&K’s orchardists who have a lot to ponder and invest to keep the produce edible.
In the spring of 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic lockdown fruit growers couldn’t visit their orchards to spray pesticides. This, according to them, led to scab diseases affecting around 60 per cent of the crop.
Last year, Kashmir’s apple industry faced another challenge due to the unregulated import of Iranian apples.
Thousands of growers had stored their produce in cold storage to send it to outside markets last year. However, due to the alleged import of Iranian apples, the growers said that there were not sufficient buyers for the Kashmiri apples.
The government should take measures needed to help the orchardists to tide over various challenges that crop up from time to time.