Srinagar: Fruit growers have sent an SOS to the Jammu and Kashmir government after they suffered huge losses as lockdown has hampered shipping of delicate cherry crop to different markets across the country.
Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union (KVFGDU) has sought immediate attention of Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, claiming that the current situation could affect 10 lakh families in Kashmir.
Chairman, KVFGDU. Bashir Ahmad Basheer said Makhmali and Mishri varieties of cherry have been harvested but couldn’t be sold due to the lockdown.
“Makhmali and Mishri varieties make up 60 percent of total cherry produce, which as per past practice are transported via Air cargo and railways to Mumbai fruit mandi. Since Mumbai is hit by Covid-19, the fruit mandi is non-functional, which has sent shock waves across the growers’ community,” he said.
Basheer also said the closure of canning industries in Kashmir has also hit the growers as a large quantity of `double cherries’ remain unsold in the warehouses.
“Double cherry variety is used in canning industries. We recently held a meeting with Canning Owners Association and urged them to buy double cherries. They were reluctant given the closure of canning factories and market uncertainty,” he said.
Chairman, KVFGDU, said the lack of transport facilities is equally adding to the loss of the growers.
“We recently took up the matter with the airline companies and railways for shipping cherries. It is unfortunate that despite vigorous follow-ups the administration failed to provide facilities to the poor cherry growers who are in acute mental agony,” he said.
Fruit growers have urged the administration to increase the rate of cherries to Rs 100 per kilogram.
Cherry is the first crop of the Kashmir’s horticulture sector and its harvesting begin from the first week of May. Kashmir produces 12000-13000 metric tonnes of cherry every year, which is majorly transported to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and other cities.