Anantnag: Unlike previous years, the market rates for Kashmiri Apples has been showing a decline, which has worried the orchard owners of South Kashmir’s Anantnag and Kulgam districts.
The orchardists informed Kashmir Vision that the demand for Apples from outside the states is also low.
Mohammad Yousuf, who is involved in the fruit auctioning process at Kulgam Mandi said that as compared to the previous years, the rates of royal delicious box is very low.
“20 Kgs good quality royal delicious apple box is being sold at an amount of Rs 400 to 600 in the market while in the last year, the box was sold at an amount of Rs 1000-1200,” he informed.
He further added that demand for apples in outside state market is also very low due to unknown reasons.
With the prices remaining depressed, the apple orchard owners are worried.
Notably, the local orchardists alleged that they are being looted by Commission agents as they are being forced to pay 15 to 20 percent commission on the trade conducted.
“As there is no open auction in the fruit market, the commission agents are doing underhand auctions with buyers without informing the orchardists,” locals said.
They added that there is no fixed freight for carrying goods from here to the markets either in the state or outside the state.
“They themselves have doubled freight rates that are adversely affecting the orchardists,” the local traders added.
The traders and orchardists have demanded from the Transport Minister to look into the matter and fix ferrying rates once and increase it per year by 2 to 3 percent.
Ghulam Hassan Mir, an orchardist from Dachnipora belt of Anantnag district said that if authorities will not take any strict measures, the day would not be far when orchardists would start committing suicides.
“We have to buy wooden boxes for Rs 70 to 80 a piece and then spend Rs 100 to 150 on freight, besides using money on other things. The total cost on per box goes upto Rs 400 to Rs 450 and in market we get only Rs 300 to Rs 400. Tell us what we will earn from this harvest while as we have to spent on maintaining the crop for the whole year,” he said.
Pertinently, about 85 percent of people in Kulgam and 60 percent of people in Anantnag area wholly dependent on horticulture sector, mostly apples.
Director Horticulture Planning and Marketing Kashmir, Manzoor Ahmad told ‘Kashmir Vision’ that rates are going down as the orchardists are sending their apples to few mandis only.
“There is a need to diversify trade as Mandis are available in almost every major city of India,” he said.
However, he added that he will also look into the matter of freight hike.