Apple industry: facing new challenges

Although the harvesting of the Kashmiri  apples has started in the valley  orchards, but this year growers have to face tough times while plucking their fruits.

The new disease called leaf minors has cobwebbed the fruit trees all-around, making the job more difficult. Despite making regular anti-insect sprays on large scale, the leaf warn and blackish layers on apples has brought anxiety  to the otherwise smiling faces of growers.

This year the growers were expecting good prices for their yield, but spreading of new diseases and dry weather have made the farmers very concerned. 

Unfortunately the unfavorable weather conditions and spreading of new diseases has hit the apple production this year.

Since people associated with apple industry have not yet recovered from previous years’ set back, this year again things are not so good for this rural industry.

Unlike previous years this year the production of apple is considerably very low, but on the market side there was an  expectation of an upward turn; it was expected that despite low production the growers this year would have good market for their yield.

But the unfavorable weather conditions, which included hail storm and nowadays intensity of heat has badly affected the apple production.

Besides arrival of Iranian apple without import duty and reduction of custom duty on Washington apples – the causes of worry are multiple for the fruit growers.

Last year the apple industry had almost collapsed and poor marketing of the produce had brought a gloom on the faces of its growers.

In fact last year there was a bumper scab free production but poor marketing and low prices of the apples badly affected the ruler economy; particularly the growers had to suffer the heavy losses.

Their hard labor and investment on pesticides did not pay the dividends. The fruit market, particular the apple market has almost collapsed and there was no such demand for apples.

In fact, there were wonderful varieties of apples available in the apple market but there were no genuine rates, and no sufficient buyers of this fruit. The growers and fruit dealers had to face heavy losses. 

Last year the bumper produce of the fruit, poor road transport facilitates, heavy carriage charges and low purchasing power were the main reasons for the collapse of this industry.

Besides, in the race for cultivating commercialised fruit, the land has lost several varieties of old traditional fruit. Indeed several mystics say  that it is the curse of the forgotten fruit varieties and greed which is mainly responsible for the collapse of this industry.

On the other hand, the fruit growers have remained more dependent on insecticide spray, rather than on spiritual pursuits which the most God fearing people think is one of the main causes responsible for the collapse of this industry. 

Fruit growers have made their respective orchards pesticide addicted, while making countless chemical sprays, but on the other hand no special prayers are any where offered to safe guard their fruit from the natural calamities. The hail storm, high temperatures, dry weather, and spreading of unknown diseases in orchards are counted like natural curses.

We have also neglected the traditional fruit culture and have been merely dealing with more commercial ones which yield us quick benefits but not without hard labor and capital said a group of formers.

Indeed it is not bad to explore new commercial varieties of this fruit but at the same time we should not ignore our traditional fruit culture. At the other hand we shall not remain wholly dependent on pesticides but also seek forgiveness from the God as without His blessings our fruit industry would never flourish.   

 In fact  valley has got a suitable environment and climate, which helps it to produce variety of fruit, usually grown in cool and moderate temperatures. Scores of varieties of apple, pear, walnut, cherry, almond, apricot, grapes and other fruits have been grown here and exported to other lands.

But from last few decades the apple has been grown here in abundance and that too in different updated varieties, like delicious, kalu, krimzan and more recently  Italian varieties  have also been introduced.  

This apparently growing apple industry has been changing the social and economic status of rural Kashmir and hs helped its people in reshaping their economy. 

Indeed, it is good to promote the indigenous fruit culture of this land as the fruit Industry has been playing a vital role in developing the economy of the valley. The commercial fruits are fetching a good income for the Kashmiri farmers and the trend has changed the life standards of Kashmiri villages.

At many places the local farmers have discontinued the tradition of rice cultivation and have grown orchards on their agricultural lands. The superior qualities of apple and pear are coming up on agricultural lands which have changed the life standard of an average farmer.

Thanks to the new horticulture research which has paved way for the Kashmiri farmers to produce better quality of commercially viable varieties.

But at the same time the changing climatic conditions and usage of sub standard pesticides have posed a great threat to this industry. From last few years the apple growers have been facing tough times due to heavy losses. This is all due to unfavorable climatic conditions, spreading of hitherto unknown diseases and ineffective pesticides.

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