Ganderbal: The rainy conditions this year have affected the cultivation of grapes in Repora, a village in Lar area of Gaderbal district, known for producing tasty grapes.
Repora grapes are known for being ready when fresh grapes are not available anywhere in the world except Italy.
Abdul Rahim Bhat, a farmer from Repora, said that this year due to the rainy conditions, the harvesting of the fruit got delayed.
“The impact of this year's rainfall is evident on the production of grapes in Repora,” he said.
In Kashmir, of the approximate 1100-1500 metric tonnes of grapes produced annually, 700-900 metric tonnes are grown in Ganderbal district.
The growers associated with the grape cultivation in Repora said that about 90 percent of the population in the village was associated with grape cultivation, which is a major contributor to their livelihood.
"Grapes are cultivated on about 60 hectares of land in Repora village which helps hundreds of people earn their livelihood" Bhat said.
He said that the harvesting season of Repora grapes start from July till mid September, however, the season got delayed due to frequent rains this year.
Locals said that the area started producing grapes from the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh.
"The Maharaja used to grow grapes on his land in Repora which is with the Horticulture Department today. Hundreds of kanal of land in the village are utilised to cultivate different varieties of grapes, which include Sahibi, Hussieni, Thomsan, and other varieties,” they said.
The international standard of the best quality of grapes is of the berry size of 4-5 gm but Repora grapes exceed the international standards at 14-15 gm.
"A team of experts a few years back visited our village and they weighed the grapes and one grape weighed 15 gm, which does not find a match anywhere in the world,” said a farmer from Repora, Abdul Rasheed.
The villagers also attribute the thriving of grapes in the area to the blessings of a saint, Mir Syed Shah Sadiq Qalandar (RA) who they believe lived in the area.
“It is the blessing of Shah Sahab (RA),” says Ghulam Muhammad of Repora.
The farmers said that the government, particularly the concerned Horticulture and Agriculture departments, should provide them with the latest information, techniques, and awareness to help them.
"We are dependent on this sector and the concerned departments should primarily focus on improving this crop and make more varieties which will improve our economic conditions,” the growers said. “The government should try to lift this fruit by providing growers with facilities like refrigeration vans and cold storage facilities, besides introduction of latest techniques. Our production can increase manifold and become the reason for the good employment generation in the future.”
Horticulture Marketing Officer Ganderbal, Azhar Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that the grapes were perishable crops and needed to be handled carefully.
He said that the department had advised the growers to start planning diversification of this crop that would help them to enhance their income.
"The Horticulture Department is planning to provide the growers storage and other facilities so that their crops are available for a longer time,” he said.