Srinagar: Kashmir's apple industry is facing a major crisis. The lockdown following the abrogation of article 370 last year was a huge setback and then early snowfall that destroyed the apple orchards, and now the coronavirus lockdown that has broken the supply chain and hampered business causing major losses to the farmers and apple growers.
Huge quantities of apples are rotting due to non availability of a market and buyers. Tens of thousands of apple boxes are lying in cold storages across the valley. The farmers have appealed to the J&K administration to intervene and help them come out of this crisis.
"Farmers are suffering losses in crores, we appeal to the Lt Governor to come to our rescue, our produce has suffered huge damage, there are no buyers, we can't sell the apples during the lockdown," said a farmer in Pulwama.
The apple industry suffered major losses in the lockdown following the abrogation of article 370 on August 5 2019. The harvest got delayed. The killing of some non-local labourers in south Kashmir worsened the situation. The growers stored their harvest in the hope of receiving better rates this spring. But the second lockdown in less than a year has dashed all their hopes.
"We are really at a loss and don't know how to deal with the situation," said an apple merchant.
Kashmir produces 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples every year. The fruit is cultivated on more than 37 lakh hectares of land across the valley constituting 75 per cent of the total apple production in India.
The fruit earns Kashmir Rs 8000 crores annually, and provides livelihood to 33 lakh people including seven lakh farmers.