Shopian: A record two lakh metric tonnes of apple, particularly the Kulu Delicious apples, are being stored this year in cold storage units, with 30 percent to 40 percent of the total number of units in Kashmir already full.
Last year the cold storages went mostly empty due to decline in apple production, but 2021 is seeing a sharp hike in the quantity of apple being stored.
Kashmir, according to official data, has about 40 cold storage units based at Lasipora Pulwama, Aglar Shopian, and some parts of north Kashmir.
Area Marketing Officer Shopian, Skinder Mahmood, told Kashmir Reader that currently most of the fruit from Shopian is being put in cold stores.
He said that sufficient arrangements for transport facilities at the mega fruit mandi in Aglar Shopian have been made to provide every possible ease to growers and traders.
The stored fruit last year sold at handsome rates, with a ten-kilogram apple box even selling at Rs 1,800 in outside markets despite Covid-19 restrictions all over India imposed by the union government.
Izhan Javid, a leading businessman and cold storage owner in Shopian, said that he hoped that 90 percent of the stores will get filled with apple this year.
He said that last year, cold storage owners suffered huge losses as very little of the produce was stored by growers. This was because 40 percent of the crop was affected by scab and in some areas the fruit was damaged by heavy hailstorms.
The apples sold in cold stores are transported to outside markets from the month of April, according to the demand and supply chain. According to experts, apple can be stored up to seven months in cold storages but begins to spoil after that.
People associated with the apple industry say that introduction of cold storages has revolutionised the industry besides providing jobs to hundreds of labourers.
Kashmir on average produces over 20 lakh metric tonnes of apple every year, a figure that in some years touches 25 lakh metric tonnes.
The 2017 economic survey in J&K said that half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry and over 3.5 lakh hectares are under apple cultivation.