Srinagar: Fifty-year-old fruit grower of Baramulla Mohammad Ramzan Bhat was at seventh heaven after harvesting a bumper pear crop this season.
Hoping for a good return, he waited for more than a month to ship the fruit crop. When the time came to export the produce, no trucker was ready to transport the pears to Delhi.
“I am incurring huge losses. No trucker is ready to ship the pears to New Delhi. Even I couldn’t grade the crop for the last two weeks,” Bhat said.
Bhat’s case is a classic example of farmer distress in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370. Fruit growers claim that they are incurring huge losses due to the prevailing uncertainty.
Tonnes of fruits including apples and pears are lying in the stores of the orchardists as truckers are reluctant to ship the produce due to prevailing tension and uncertainty.
Distressed farmers of Pattan, Tangmarg, Naidkhai and Bandipora are now selling their produce at throwaway prices to the dealers in Sopore Fruit Mandi.
“We don’t have any other option. We leave early in the morning to Sopore Fruit Mandi, and sell our produce at throwaway prices. We cannot allow our fruits to rot in orchards or warehouses. We do not have cold storage facility available,” said Fayaz Ahmad, a fruit grower.
Farmers have even set up the stalls along Srinagar-Baramulla highway to sell their producers to the commuters and passersby. The situation is no different for the growers of South Kashmir. Farmers said they are unable to harvest the produce given the strict restrictions. Farmers of Pulwama, Tral and Anantnag are the worst hit as they have suffered huge losses due to the prevailing situation for the last two weeks.
“Every farmer enters into an agreement with outside state dealers for buying their fruits before the season starts. Even we took advance payment from them. But due to the current situation, we fear that our produce may go unsold,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a grower from Shopian.