Double whammy for Kashmir apple growers

Low prices, transportation hassles put Kashmir’s fruit industry in peril
A man picks apples at an orchard in south Kashmir's Pulwama. [Image for representational purpose only]
A man picks apples at an orchard in south Kashmir's Pulwama. [Image for representational purpose only]File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, Sep 23: Low prices and current transportation issues on the Srinagar-Jammu route have put Kashmir’s fruit growers in a precarious situation where they are facing losses.

The challenges along the highway that are causing fruit-laden trucks on the NH-44 to stop are exacerbating their troubles, which have already been made worse by the invasion of untaxed Iranian apples and low demand across India.

Fruit growers claim that the issue still exists despite government guarantees that fruit-carrying cars will be able to travel without incident over the one and only surface route connecting Kashmir to the rest of the nation.

Chairman, Kashmir Fruit Valley Growers cum Dealers Union, Bashir Ahmad Basheer said that “In order to ensure that fruit-laden trucks operate smoothly, particularly at Banihal and Qazigund, a group of 25 growers from all districts of the Valley, travelled to Ramban. On the specified date, 20.9.2022, there was a downhill convey, but it was personally observed that the traffic personnel also permitted upward traffic, causing severe congestion that left thousands of fruit-laden trucks stuck and allowed the upper convey to proceed without any problems.”

“It is unclear why uphill traffic is travelling on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway as and when downhill traffic is permitted according to the schedule. This needs to be taken seriously because it is the only thing that is generating the severe traffic jams that are leading traffic officials to stop fruit-filled trucks for days on end.”

“The fact that 300 fruit-filled trucks are headed towards Bangladesh. Since the Bangladesh border would purportedly be closed on September 28, 2022, all 300 fruit-filled trucks will be completely ruined if they do not arrive in Bangladesh far in advance of that date. The height of things is that due to the border’s closing, Bangladeshi buyers who were previously in the valley to buy apples from various Mandis are no longer able to do so.”

The Kashmir Valley fruit growers urged the LG administration that the advisory issued by the administration should be implemented in letter and spirit.

“Extra time should be provided for clearance of the backlog of fruit-laden trucks from Valley to rest parts of the country, top priority and uninterrupted transportation of fruit-laden trucks be allowed to ply so that all Fruit laden Trucks meant for Bangladesh will cross Border well in advance of 28-09-2022 so that poor fruit growers may not suffer heavy losses, it reads”

“The fruit-laden trucks exclusively may kindly be allowed to ply on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway constantly for 2-3 days so that all stranded fruit-laden trucks could move onward to their respective destinations, particularly fruit-laden trucks meant for Bangladesh.”

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