Apple growers relieved at second year of bumper harvest; worries linger at low market rates

Apple growers relieved at second year of bumper harvest; worries linger at low market rates
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SHOPIAN: District Shopian this year is harvesting a bumper apple crop with diseases having remained at bay to a large extent as compared to previous years. Horticulture experts believe there has been a 15 percent rise in production this time over that of last year.
With the apple harvest season at its peak, apple growers and traders are joyous at the yield, which has come after they faced heavy losses when their cherry harvest vanished this summer due to heavy rains that resulted in 60 percent crop damage.
The bumper crop this year is the second in a row as there was a huge rise last year following years of low production since 2010. Cautious orchardists are retaining their apprehension, however, given the prevailing sluggish market rates in the Valley and in Mandis outside.
Javid Ahmad, a local from the district’s Shirmal area, told Kashmir Reader that those in his area are happy and busy with apple harvesting. “We were hoping to pay back our debts, taken from banks and financial institutions, but I feel the low markets rates may not let us to do that,” he said.
A bank official said that many people cleared their debits last year but a large number are still under the burden of bank loans. “Before 2017, there were 95 percent loan takers in the district, but there was a decline in that by the end of 2017. We hope this year more people would be able to clear their debts,” he said.
According to horticulture department figures, Shopian last year had 3,13,939 metric tonns of horticulture production, among which were 2,96,302 metric tons of fresh fruit and 17,637 metric tons of dry fruit from 26,231 hectares of land.
According to Abdul Majeed, a department officer from Shopian, the estimate production in 2018 would be 3,29,310 metric tons of total horticulture production on 26,932 hectares of land under horticulture cultivation. The officer said that final records may vary with the arrival of the final market report.