Fruit Industry is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. Despite reaping the bumper crop this year, growers are dejected. Their dejection is legitimate, because the annual turnover from the same industry had remained far behind to the expectations of the growers. About 70 percent of the total population of the valley is directly or indirectly dependent on the horticultural produce of Kashmir. But what is the use of a bumper fruit harvest if the growers are not able to get good rates for their high quality apple produce?
Iranian Apples Hit Kashmir’s Produce
With the import of the Iranian apples in the Indian Markets, the Kashmiri apple got a major blow. Its cost value went down – so much down that the grower is unable to balance the expenses and gains. Many growers said that their expenses incurred throughout the year in pesticide spraying, fertilizing and other things like pruning and branch supporting is more than the net sale income. The Iranian Apples have flooded the Indian Markets and are available at low cost which has led the Kashmiri apples to face the competition.
How The Value Can Be Regained
This was the first time when the common masses in mainland India had been given the option to buy Iranian apples. Before, it was the only option to choose Kashmiri Apple. The Kashmiri Apple, as per the consumers earlier feedback, has good colour and great taste because the consumer may have not tasted other Apples.
Perhaps the consumer may have enjoyed the other taste as compared to his old taste. Maybe the consumers have found more health benefits in the imported apples than ours. The Kashmiri grower has always focused on colour and cost value of the fruit.
What really matters are the health benefits. To increase the health value in our Apples, consultation teams of experts should provide training and organise camps to teach the advanced, scientific and beneficial methods of growing a good quality fruit.
Need For CA Stores At Community Levels
Fruits are consumed daily through the year. One can forget taking essential medicine but cannot forget to eat fruit. The apples are harvested once in a year but are consumed throughout the year.
Most of the growers from Kashmir regret that post harvest facilities are not good. The same Apple loses colour or taste after three or four months of harvesting.
In the harvesting season the Apple fruit is available in abundance, which leads to lower cost. But during off season like April, May, June and July, the apples available in the markets costs ten times more as compared to the cost in the harvesting season.
Also, during the lean season, the apple is available in limited quantity. During off season, competition is low and demand is more, which leads to rise in the sale price. If the bulk quantity gets stored in the CA (Controlled Atmosphere) stores, it could help in gaining the economic value of the Kashmiri fruits.
More CA Stores Will Help Growers
In Kashmir there are only 40 CA (Controlled Atmosphere) stores and out of which 23 are present in Lassipora village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. These CA stores can store only about 10 percent of the total output produce of Apples. For remaining 90 percent of the Apple produce, it becomes imperative to sell the fruit at whatever costs.
If the number of Controlled Atmosphere stores is increased, they shall be able to store 90 percent of the total produce. The sale of the stored apples can be made throughout the year at attractive rates. These small CA stores should be made available at community level in the village. The storage capacity of the store should be in proportion to the net horticulture produce of that particular area.
If CA stores are set up community level, there will be less rush in the fruit Mandis. The fruit which remains in the load carriers for days and weeks will not spoil. During the peak harvesting season, usually there remains huge demand for transportation. This time the main connectivity line that is Jammu Srinagar National Highway remains crowded with fruit laden trucks.
This results in heavy traffic jams. The halting of fruit results in fruit spoilage. If during the year from different CA stores the fruit is transported, then there shall be no transportation challenges. The trucks will not be halted, and there shall be no spoilage.
If the number of Controlled Atmosphere stores is increased, they shall be able to store 90 percent of the total produce. The sale of the stored apples can be made throughout the year at attractive rates. These small CA stores should be made available at community level in the village. The storage capacity of the store should be in proportion to the net horticulture produce of that particular area