“Movement Of Fruit Trucks From Kashmir Should Be Allowed 365 Days”
Former Chairman Transportation, The New Kashmir Fruit Association
Our family has been part of the horticulture sector in Kashmir for more than 70 years. When I was part of The New Kashmir Fruit Association, I put in all my efforts to ensure that the fruits from Kashmir should reach the major national markets in time so that high quality is maintained.
Earlier, the fruit used to go by truck to Delhi, and from there to Mumbai by train. We got best rates for cherries in Mumbai. I consistently pursued that we should be able to send cherries directly to Mumbai. Finally through air cargo, we started sending cherries from here directly to Mumbai.
Previously, the cherries were packed in wooden boxes. But these were heavy and air freight was impacted. I took up this issue. We were able to introduce the cardboard cartons for cherries in collaboration with the government. These are lighter, and we got 50 per cent subsidy on air-freight.
Imported Apples Should Be Allowed Only If Domestic Supply Is Lacking
Kashmiri apples are of better quality than the imported fruit. While the local fruit is available in the market, there should be a ban on imported fruit.
The government should allow fruit import only after the local supply gets sold and there is more demand. It is the bounden duty of the government to protect the country’s farmers and the local crop.
In February and March, Kashmiri apples were registering a handsome sale in the market. The rates were Rs 1500 approximately for a peti.
During the same time, apples from Iran and Afghanistan reached the market.
Rates for Kashmiri apples dropped. Farmers could get only Rs 700 to Rs 800 for a peti. The government should allow import if domestic supply is not available.
Kashmiri apples are far better in quality. If import is also allowed during that period, it leads to losses for our own growers.
Pesticides Are A Major Challenge
One of the major challenges in the horticulture sector of Kashmir is pesticides. Many times, the pesticides that are supplied here are of poor quality. At times, pesticides that are beyond the expiry date are supplied to the farmers.
The government must ensure that pesticides of good quality are provided to growers so that fruit quality is not impacted adversely.
Road Connectivity And Transportation
The road condition is bad at places. The government must conduct a survey and improve the entire stretch.
Secondly, transportation of fruit is a major challenge for us. In the winter months when fruit harvest is at the peak, access to the national highway is closed because of landslides etc. Fruit supply gets halted. This causes major problems to farmers because fruits are a highly perishable product.
During the times when the highway is open, the movement of fruit trucks from Kashmir must be allowed on all days. Fruit quality suffers badly if transportation is halted.
Need More CA Stores, Better Marketing
We need more Controlled Atmosphere stores in Kashmir. We have CA stores, but they are far less than the demand.
We also need better marketing of Kashmir’s apples. We have enough production of apples in the country.
We have a long pending demand for crop insurance. It has been implemented in
many Indian states but has not been implemented here.