Valley fruit industry in trouble, courtesy poor transport facility, freight hike

MUKEET AKMALI

Srinagar, Oct 23: The Valley’s apple industry has come under strain due to steep hike in freight and deficient transport facilities.
 The fruit traders and exporters today said the truckers have hiked the freight steeply this season. “The freight has seen almost 100 per cent increase this year which has left us high and dry,” the exporters said, blaming the deficient transport service in the Valley for pushing up the freight.
 Curiously, the hike in freight has come at a time when the apple industry is grappling with low production.
 “The high transport charges have reduced the margins for the traders sharply,” they said.
 Mushtaq Ahmad, a fruit grower in north Kashmir said he was  planning to send his apple produce to outside the state , “but due to hike in transport charges I sold it here to  a dealer.”
 The dealers said earlier it would cost between Rs 70 and Rs 75 per apple box to dispatch it to as far-away a place as Kolkata. “However, the freight rates have now increased suddenly, particularly since the last week of September. The transporters now charge between Rs 120 and 130 per box as freight to Kolkata fruit markets, which is highly exorbitant,” he added.
 Many traders blamed the sudden rise in the freight to inadequate transport facilities. “A grower or a fruit dealer in Kashmir heavily depends on transporters from neighbouring states like Punjab and Haryana,” they said, adding that the truckers from those states were charging exorbitantly under the pretext of fuel price hike.
 “The freight charges have increased steeply which is eating up the profit margin of the dealers,” said Fayaz Ahmad, president, Fruit Growers Association, Sopore, which manages the affairs of Sopore Fruit Mandi, one of the biggest fruit markets in Kashmir.
 Fayaz attributed the sudden rise in freight to low availability of transport facilities, saying that the state government was also responsible for it.
 “Round this time on an average 300 to 350 trucks used to leave Sopore Fruit Mandi daily for different fruit markets in the country like Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bihar. But at present there remain only 100 to 150 trucks available in the Mandi daily, which leads to increase in freight,” Fayaz said.
 He added that the transporters in Punjab and Haryana have also been sending little number of trucks and trailers to Kashmir, which has also led to increase in freight as the demand for trucks in Kashmir has increased manifold during this season, particularly between mid-September and October.
 “At this juncture, the government’s intervention may save the apple farmers of Kashmir, which are bearing the burden of high freight. The situation can ease if the government talks to transporters in Punjab and Haryana and also keeps its fleet of trucks available for the apple growers,” Fayaz suggested.
 When contacted Minster for Transport, Qamar Ali Akhoon told Greater Kashmir: “We will look into the matter and will take appropriate action so that our fruit growers don’t suffer any inconvenience.”

Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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