Srinagar: Waking up to farmers distress, Jammu and Kashmir administration has written to Indian Railways for shipping cherry crop to outside markets.
The harvesting of cherries has already started but farmers are worried about the transportation given the lockdown across the country.
Director, Department of Horticulture Planning and Marketing, Imam Din told The Kashmir Monitor that they have written to railways for transportation of cherry to different markets in the country.
“We wrote to Commercial Manager Railways Jammu and New Delhi and sought their services for transporting cherry to various markets of the country. We haven’t got their response yet. Hope they will cooperate with us,” he said.
Din said they have also submitted a proposal to the government for providing succor to cherry farmers. “The government sought a proposal from the horticulture department and horticulture planning and marketing to resolve the transportation issues. We have submitted the proposal and let us see what pans out,” he said.
For transportation within Jammu and Kashmir, he said the government has given truckers special passes to ferry fruits and vegetables.
“Fruits and vegetables have been brought under the essential commodities act. Truckers have been given special passes to ply on the national highway. There is no problem as far as the transportation of cherry from Kashmir to Jammu is concerned,” he said.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, PK Pole has also assured the growers that they try to airlift cherries to outside fruit mandis.
“Transportation is not the only problem. Disruption of linkage to markets is also a challenge. The government is trying to make local canning units operational to preserve part of the cherry crop,” Kashmir Chamber of Industries and Commerce quoting Divisional Commissioner P K Pole said in a statement.
Cherry is the first crop of the fruit season in Kashmir. Its harvesting begins from the first week of May. Kashmir produces 12000-13000 metric tonnes of cherry every year. Most of the crop is transported to the fruit markets of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and other cities.
“Cherry is a perishable fruit. That is why it is transported via flights and railways. We are worried because the modes of transport are shut due to the lockdown,” said Bashir Ahmad Basheer, President Parimpora Fruit Mandi.