Shopian, June 15: At least after four months, the fruit mandi in south Kashmir's Shopian district has sprung to life again with cherry growers making a beeline for the facility to sell their produce.
The cherry harvesting in the area began on May 28 and will continue up to July end.
The growers are largely garnering Italy, Makhmali and Double verities of the fruit while Mishri, one of the most sought after varieties, will be ready for harvesting a few days later. "Almost every variety, save Mishri, is ripe for picking. Due to cold climatic conditions, the harvesting season in this area begins a bit late than other parts of the Valley", said Ali Mohammad, a cherry grower from Zainpora.
More than a dozen villages including Nadigam, Losedanew, Nagisharan, Handew, Imamsahab, Arshipora and Shaltoo are the rich producers of the cherry fruit in the area.
"These villages account for 70 to 80 percent of the total cherry yield in the district," said a cherry trader. According to a horticulture official, around 4700 hectares of land are under cherry cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mohamamd Ashraf, president Fruit Mandi Shopian said that with the onset of cherry harvesting season, the facility resumed its work at least after four-month long break.
"Around forty thousand cherry boxes are being ferried to the Mandi daily and the fruit is also sent to other Mandis outside the Valley via air cargo ", said Ashraf. He said that despite rains and hailstorm, the cherry production is good this year.
The market has also brought cheer to the growers as the fruit is fetching good price.
"In our local Mandi, one Kg of Italy variety fetches a grower Rs 150 to Rs 180, while Makhmali and Double verities are sold at Rs 130 to 150 and Rs 100 to 110 respectively," said Ashiq Hussain, a fruit trader from Shopian.