SRINAGAR: People are unable to either buy or sell dates and dry fruits for the month of Ramadhan due to the nation-wide lockdown over Covid-19. In Kashmir, the month of Ramadan and the days leading up to it are the busiest market season for dates, dry fruits, suji, etc, which are consumed at the time of breaking the daily fast.
Srinagar is the main market for dates and dry fruits but people are unable to travel from other districts and even people in Srinagar are confined to their homes. Different varieties of dates used to reach Kashmir from all parts of the world ahead of Ramadan, including Safia, Date Crown, Mabroom, Kalami, Maryam and Ajwa. All these dates have been lying unsold this year.
Nazir Ahmad Shah, president of the Shahar-i- Khas Coordination Committee of traders in old Srinagar, said that only 10% of the stocks have been sold so far, that too only in the local Srinagar markets.
“There are nearly a thousand traders who have with them enough stocks of dates and dry fruits, but due to the lockdown all markets are shut and traders and shopkeepers from other districts are unable to come to buy from us. Last year there was huge rush of customers as well as shopkeepers coming from other districts, but this year the demand as well as sales are very low,” Shah said.
“If these dates are not sold on time, they will spoil and traders will suffer huge loses. The government should provide compensation to the traders. It should not levy GST and waive off power bills and bank loans for the lockdown period,” Shah added.
Basheer Ahmad Basheer, president of the Parimpora Fruit Mandi, said that there are enough stocks available but the demand is only 40% of the usual.
“As compared to last year, the demand for dates is less than half. In fact, demand for vegetables is higher as compared to dates,” Basheer said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang Kondbarao Pole, told Kashmir Reader that supplies of dates and dry fruits are reaching Kashmir as part of essential commodities. He said there is no shortage of any item in the markets.