SRINAGAR: The shutdown and communication lockdown has created a dearth of transport trucks for apple crop, with farmers in southern Kashmir complaining of inflated freight charges
Apple farmers and traders are complaining that they are being charged carriage rates of Rs 110 to 130 on a 16 kg apple box to Delhi, which, they said used to hover around Rs 60 to 75.
The growers have started late harvest of apple due to shutdown and related uncertainties. Communications lockdown has been a major spoiler, with farmers and traders unable to communicate with each other and the market.
“This season we are running late and a large portion of apples have fallen from trees resulting in losses. The heavy ferrying charges on apple boxes has added to our woes, as first there are no good rates of Kashmir apple right now in outside markets, secondly the produce is rapidly falling from trees, ” Tariq Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Turkwangam village said.
Growers said that local drivers have created a monopoly in absence of non-local truckers, who would otherwise be available in abundance.
“Due to the unrest in Kashmir, a minute number of non-local transporters have come and they are not visiting rural areas because of the threats,” a trader, who is a member of the Shopian’s Arhama fruit Mandi, said.
He said that the inflated freight charges along with dwindling rates for produce makes them think of dumping the crop than sending it to markets.
Traders said that majority of truckers from outside used to come to local fruit mandis through truck unions, which are shut nowadays.
The communications blockade is a major spoiler, which affects the business directly or indirectly.
Farmers said they are not able to arrange trucks through phone calls or Internet.
“We are forced to spend a day or two, to arrange a truck for ferrying apple but he too charges us according to his wishes,” Mubashir Ahmad another orchardist said.
Another group of traders said that government has failed to make arrangements of transport for ferrying apple to different markets in India due to which the sector again is going to witness heavy losses.
Repeated attempts to contact commissioner transport SP Vaid could not materialize.