Shopian: Apples kept in cold storages in Kashmir this year are fetching what traders call the “highest-ever rates” since cold storage units were established in Kashmir.
According to official data, as many as 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple were stored in cold storages in 2020.
Izhan Javid, chief executive officer of one of these cold storage units, told Kashmir Reader that a 10-kilogram box of stored apple has been sold at a minimum of Rs 1,000, and at Rs 1,800 as highest price, depending on the quality and colour of the apple.
These rates, according to apple growers and traders, are the highest since Kashmiris started storing their apples in cold storages.
Cold storages based at Lassipora Pulwama, Aglar Shopian, and a few areas in north Kashmir have the capacity to store about 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple.
It is pertinent to mention here that the apple sector suffered a heavy blow, especially the apples kept in cold storages, last year when the coronavirus lockdown shut down or disrupted trade and transport for months.
Last year’s rates, according to Adil Hussain Lone, a fruit trader, plunged below Rs 500 for a 10-kg box, an amount even lesser than what was charged for keeping the apples in cold storages.
Muhammad Yaqoob, a trader who for consecutive years had sustained losses amounting to more than Rs 5 crore due to back-to-back lockdowns in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, said that he has been able to recover 60 percent of his losses as his stored produce fetched handsome rates in the market.
Last year, when Kashmir’s apple production declined by about 6 lakh metric tonnes as most of the crop was affected by scab disease, only 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple was stored in cold storages. Usually the figure every year was about 2 lakh metric tonnes.
Kashmir last year produced about 17 lakh metric tonnes of apple, a decline of 30 percent compared to the production in 2019.
According to official data, more than 7 lakh families in Kashmir – more than 50 percent of the population – are directly dependent on the fruit industry. In Kashmir, apple is grown on about 3.5 lakh hectares of land.