The local horticulture sector is facing the brunt of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, with restrictions and lockdown causing Rs 900 crore loss to the fruit industry during last 50 days.
As per preliminary estimates by Kashmir-based fruit growers cum dealers association, the fruit industry has suffered a whopping Rs 900 crore loss since the unrest began in Kashmir in the wake of killing of Hizb commander, Burhan Wani on July 8 in South Kashmir.
"The government-imposed restrictions have adversely affected the horticulture sector as the growers are not able to bring their produce into the mandis as the trucks are not allowed to move," chairman All Kashmir Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, Bashir Ahmad Basheer said.
"Our preliminary estimates based on the figures communicated by growers across Kashmir through our constituent members, show that in the last 50 days of unrest the industry has suffered an aggregate Rs 900 crore loss," he said. He however added that the losses are nothing in comparison to the loss of precious lives in the current unrest.
Fruit industry considered to be the mainstay of Kashmir economy contributes Rs 6,000 crore to State Gross Domestic Product.
"For past few days the government forces are not even allowing fruit laden vehicles in Srinagar market which is adding to the losses," he said, adding that the restrictions across Kashmir are also hindering the movement of growers who usually bring their produce to the designated fruit markets in their respective places from where the fruit is dispatched to outside the state markets.
He said: "Last year during the corresponding period, Kashmir was exporting around 200 to 250 truckloads of fruit daily. But this time around only 40 to 50 trucks go from Kashmir to outside fruit markets."
Baseer said due to restrictions in place, the Kashmir fruit industry was losing market to other states.
President, Sopore Fruit Mandi, Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray said the restrictions imposed by the authorities have hit their business badly. "Already the restrictions have taken toll on export of fruit industry. Last year during this time we would send around 175 truckloads from this mandi to outside markets. But this year only 20 to 35 fruit laden trucks go from Sopore fruit mandi to outside," he said, adding that forces are not even allowing the fruit growers from far flung areas to reach Sopore Fruit Mandi.
Tantray said the government forces are not allowing them to operate Asia's second fruit Mandi- Sopore, during night hours. "They are not allowing us to operate from 6 PM to 9 AM. Ironically most of the work in the fruit mandi is done during night as during the day hours the growers from various areas bring their produce to the market where it is auctioned and sold, then later dispatched during night hours," he said and added that unfortunately "we are not allowed to do our business which is causing huge losses to the horticulture sector."
To mention, the ongoing unrest in Kashmir has led to a whopping Rs 6,400-crore loss to the economy of the Valley, with businesses being badly hit due to curfew and lockdowns.