High air charges reason for ‘sudden’ decline in rates of Shopian cherry

High air charges reason for ‘sudden’ decline in rates of Shopian cherry
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‘Rs 65 for ferrying single kilogram to Mumbai, higher for farther stations’

SHOPIAN: With the cherry harvest at its peak, market rates of cherry declined all of a sudden in south Kashmir’s district Shopian.
Growers and traders are unhappy with the present rates which saw almost 50 percent decline within a week’s time.
A group of buyers from fruit mandi of Arhama in Shopian told Kashmir Reader that government attitude towards the fruit sector is among the reasons which led to the decline of rates of cherry in Indian markets. They said the higher air lifting charges is the foremost reason for the decline in rates.
Muhammad Amin Pir, President Fruit Mandi, Shopian told Kashmir Reader that they want to supply cherry to different Indian markets through airplanes but the higher transportation charges restricts them to do so. “The cherry, you know, is less resistant to heat and rains as well. The same product when stuck on highway reduces its quality and hence fetches low rate,” he said.
Mandi president added they have to pay Rs 65 for ferrying a single kilogram of cherry to Mumbai markets through airplanes and higher in farther stations. Pir while demanding discount on air fares said the current transport charges were too high which according to him “has broken the back of orchardists as well as traders”. “Once we have to pay Rs 65 per kilogram, it automatically gets costlier and at the same time the rates get reduced as most of it gets exhausted in air fares,” he said.
He added that a bulk of cherry fruit goes to Punjab and Delhi markets where there is no demand of such a supply. He said that if cherry reached all major states of India then automatically the rates will rise.
A group of traders from the mandi demanded that government must announce concession or subsidy in air lifting charges so the orchardists and traders didn’t face financial crunch.
Growers also pleaded government to initiate measures for bringing more and more buyers from different stations so that the fruit get distributed hence gets better rates.
As per official figures, horticulture department has estimated almost 85 metric tonnes of cherry crop in district Shopian which according to experts is being considered as ‘bumper crop’.
Experts said the varieties of cherry worst hit by ‘rare’ decline is Mishry and Dabal. They added that comparatively the other newly introduced varieties also got hit by the decline in rates.
Last year, cherry growers had a huge setback after 50 percent of their cherry crop vanished due to heavy rains and inclement weather.
Area marketing officer, Muhammad Yousuf Shah couldn’t be reached on phone for comments despite several attempts.