Kashmir Apple Industry Suffers Rs300 Cr Loss

Kashmir Apple Industry Suffers Rs300 Cr Loss

11 November 2013
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: The Kashmir’s apple industry this year has suffered a whopping Rs 300 crore loss due to inclement weather and outbreak of diseases in the fruit. According to growers-traders the inclement weather, hailstorm and outbreak of scab and alterania diseases wreaked havoc with the fruit this year affecting its production as well as quality. Last year the Valley exported apple crop to the tune of Rs 4,200 crore and this year the department of Horticulture was expecting the figure to rise up to Rs 5000 crore. “But untimely rains and diseases wreaked havoc and caused damage to the crop as a result of which its quality deteriorated.” “As per our estimates Kashmir apple crop suffered loss worth around Rs 300 crore,” said Director Horticulture, Sonam Narboo. As per the experts one of major reasons for outbreak of diseases was “spurious” fungicides and pesticides allegedly recommended by the Horticulture Department. Many apple orchards in Kashmir suffered from scab and alterania which according to experts was due to the residual effects of spurious chemicals sprayed by farmers. Damage to the fruit due to the disease had been reported from almost all the apple growing areas in the Valley. Narboo, however, claimed that the production of crop increased from 13.7 lakh MT last year to 16.33 lakh Mt this year. “But quality production was on lower side. We had lesser Grade A produce and higher grade B and C production that reduced the amount of export.” “The prices came down due to lack of quality fruit,” he explained. Narboo said the Kashmir produced annually 19 lakh metric ton fruit out of which apple production was 16.7 lakh metric. Pertinently, the apple growers had also blamed the import of apple from cross LoC as one of the reasons for decrease in the prices. However, Director Horticulture said that traders and growers had to be ready for competition and “in the market best products will have more demand.” He said that government for next year “has put strict restrictions in place to tame the influx of spurious pesticides and fungicides.” “A committee under the chairmanship of VC- SKUAST has been constituted to test the chemicals imported to Kashmir and also every pesticide and fungicide company has been asked to open their outlets in the state in order to make them accountable,” Narboo said. To mention, Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in months afterwards. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop also is sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.