Shopian: The superior quality of the Kashmiri apple has trumped competition from the ‘illegally imported’ Iranian apple, even though it has brought down rates by 20 to 30 percent in Delhi’s markets this year.
According to traders who operate from cold storages based in Lasipora industrial area, a box of apple is being sold at Rs 1200 now, much higher than the Rs 400 to Rs 600 last year.
“It could have been doing better by two to three-hundred rupees, if the Iranian apples were not being illegally brought to India,” Javid Ahmad, a trader, told Kashmir Reader.
He said it was the superior quality of the Kashmir apples which was fetching such rates. “But, still, Rs 200 or 300 down for one box is a big amount for growers who work dawn to dusk in their orchards, and are being sold spurious pesticides in Kashmir,” said Parvaiz Ahmad Bhat, a fruit grower.
However, growers and traders both say that the situation is far better than last year, when Kashmiri apple was sold at Rs 400 to 600 per box. “The rates are good this year. At least this year we will not witness more losses and it will be the first time that we will get some earnings from the trade,” said Shabir Ahmad, a trader.
Since February, hundreds of trucks of Iranian apples have been brought to India, Kashmir traders say, despite there being no agreement between India and Iran for apple trade. Kashmiri traders have alleged that the Iranian apples are being imported in the name of import from Afghanistan, as it has a free trade treaty with India.
According to official data, around 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple were stored in Kashmir cold storages, mostly based in Lasipora Pulwama and Aglar Shopian, this year.
Cold storage unit owners told Kashmir Reader that around 65 thousand tonnes of apple are yet to be sold in the markets.
Kashmir last year produced around 18 lakh metric tonnes of apple, a 30 percent decline in production compared to 2019 when it was around 25 lakh metric tonnes.