Dry dates, friendlier to the pocket during Ramadan, no more coming via LoC trade

Dry dates, friendlier to the pocket during Ramadan, no more coming via LoC trade

Srinagar: Low-price dates, drier than the pricier ones, are in high demand during Ramadan in Kashmir, but this year are in short supply.
Many items like spices, mangoes and dry fruits were already drying up from Kashmiri markets after the suspension of cross-LoC trade with the Pakistani side of Kashmir. Now, with Ramadan here, the shortage of the dry dates, brought through the Uri-Muzafarabad trade point, is being felt badly in the market.
“We have not received fresh supply of dates of Pakistani variety. Our customers ask us every day but we are unable to meet their demand,” said Ghulam Muhammad, a shop owner in Maharaja Bazar.
He said the shortage of supply would impact the upcoming wedding season also.
“These dates are in huge demand during Ramadan and wedding season. Usually these dates are distributed after Nikah ceremonies in Kashmir,” he said.
Sajid Banday, owner of Qaleem Enterprises at Parimpora Mandi, which is the main supplier of dates in Kashmir, said that most of the supplies of dry dates was via the LoC trade. Pakistan is the main producer of dates in South Asia, he said, and exported, until recently, huge consignments of these dates to India.
“Every year during Ramadan the demand for low-cost dry and fresh dates increases dramatically. But this year people will miss them in the market,” he said.
“People belonging to poor and middle-class families would prefer these dates as their cost is comparatively very less and they taste good,” Banday added.
He said dozens of trucks carrying both dry and wet dates were stuck across the LoC following the suspension of the trade.
“Three of my trucks carrying over 30,000 kilograms of dates are left to rot in Muzaffarbad. If trade is not started again we will be left in bankruptcy,” he said.
Hilal Turkie, Chairman of Cross LoC Traders Union Salamabad, said hundreds of traders are directly involved in the trading of dates through LoC route.
“They will be badly affected as they have already invested millions of rupees,” he said, adding that most of the dealers have already ordered the supply by pre-booking it three months ago.
From Pakistan, dates are exported in fresh and dried form. Fresh dates are exported to countries like USA, Canada, France, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany and UAE while 90 percent of dried dates are exported to India via Lahore and cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir.