Shopian: With every passing day, the rates of Kashmiri apple continue to plunge in Delhi and other Indian markets. The rates according to growers have come down from Rs 1300-1550 per box to Rs 600-900, particularly at Delhi’s Azadpur fruit and vegetables mandi.
On Thursday, 250 truckloads of apple from Kashmir reached Azadpur Mandi, but the rates witnessed during the day were Rs 900 highest for the top-quality apple, while apple from lower belts of Kashmir fetched only about Rs 650 per box.
The apprehensions of apple growers and traders who have stored apple in cold storages have grown as the market rates have declined.
Bilal Ahmad, a grower from Shopian, said that people are very concerned at the decline of rates of apple. “First it was cold wave in Indian parts and then the illegal arrival of Iranian apple in India markets. The untimely snowfall in October didn’t let us sell the produce then, and when we waited, the market came down heavily, thus bringing losses to the apple industry,” he said.
More than two lakh metric tonnes of apple have been stored in cold stores in Kashmir, which is a record since the practice of storing apples in cold storages began in Kashmir a few years ago.
The apples from even the fertile Kareva belts, like Keller, Ramnagri, and Sedow areas of Shopian, are witnessing below Rs 1000 rate per box, compared to previous years when it used to be sold at Rs 1500 to Rs 1700.
Nazir Ahmad, a trader who has stored 5,000 apple boxes at Lasipora Pulwama and Aglar Shopian cold storages, said that he bought four-thousands of apple boxes from growers at Rs 950 to 1,000 per box in mid-autumn. That Kulu Delicious variety of apple was sold at Rs 1,100 at his doorstep, he said, but now it is fetching Rs 900 rate in Delhi markets, that too after expenditure of more than 200 rupees extra on storage and transportation charges.
Gopal Das, chief executive officer of a Delhi-based fruit company, said that currently a top-quality 17-kilogram Kashmiri apple box is fetching Rs 700 to 900 at Delhi markets. “I think the rates are good, given the condition and quality of fruit,” he said.
On the issue of import of Iranian apple, he said that, too, is witnessing the lowest rates ever. He said that the Iranian apple is the worst in quality. “It has diseases and is poorer in quality,” Das said.
Till mid-November last year, Kashmiri apple was witnessing record rates while the produce this year was least affected by diseases. The colour of the fruit was also best, compared to the apple crop of many previous years.