Shopian, Oct 15: Picking up apples under the warmth of a pleasant sun in his manicured farm sprawling over 10 kanals, Raja Zaid is extremely happy with the quality of his crop.
“This year the produce is of top quality,” he said.
Zaid, a young orchardist from south Kashmir’s Shopian district, suffered losses last year due to the poor quality of the crop.
According to Zaid around 70 to 80 percent of his produce was hit by scab last year.
In 2020, many apple growers were hardly able to recoup the production costs due to black splotches left by the scab on the surface of apples.
Many farmers had complained that around 80 to 85 percent of their produce was hit by the disease. The farmers had blamed the spurious pesticides for the invasive spread of the disease.
However, this year the things are totally different. Most of the crop in the area is of high-quality.
Muhammad Ashraf, an apple grower and former president of Fruit MandiShopian told Greater Kashmir that “around 90 percent of produce this year is without any disease and farmers expect to reap rich dividends”.
“It is mostly because the growers this year sprayed an extra spell of pesticide spray,” he said.
Some growers, however, believe that the administration conducted frequent market checks to stop the sale of spurious pesticides.
“The administration was proactive since the beginning of farming season this year, which helped to contain the sale of substandard pesticides to a large extent,” said AbidHussain, another fruit grower from the area.
He said that the last two years were worse for the apple industry.
“The long-drawn-out lock downs in previous years and fake pesticides incurred heavy losses to both the growers and fruit traders”, he added.
Pertinently, last year police registered an open FIR with police station Shopian in connection with the sale of spurious pesticides after Greater Kashmir carried a story highlighting the menace.
Fruit MandiShopian, according to Ashraf, on a daily basis receives more than 1.5 lakh apple cartons since the harvesting season started last month.
He said that most of the crop reaching the facility could be categorized as category “A” crop.
The area, which is known for its best quality apples usually, produces around 3 to 3.5 lakh metric tonnes of fruit.