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J&K: Apple Traders Face Losses due to Transporting Issues Along the Highway

Anees Zargar |
The Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union said trucks loaded with fresh apples and other fruits have been stopped for days along the national highway

File Photo

Srinagar: The apple growers and traders in Kashmir on Saturday said they are facing losses worth crores of rupees as authorities have stopped many fruit-laden trucks along the arterial Srinagar-Jammu highway that is damaging tons of the fresh crop consignments.

The Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union said trucks loaded with fresh apples and other fruits have been stopped for days along the national highway, due to which entire consignments are getting damaged due to scorching heat.

A spokesperson of the union said that at this time, the harvesting of plum, peach, pear, and early varieties of apple has already begun, and these varieties are treated as acute perishable that needs immediate and quick transportation to various destinations outside Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is unfortunate that despite assurances from the authorities, the apple growers are facing heavy losses on the ground as fruits in hundreds of trucks have been completely destroyed,” the statement from the group read.

The association said it welcomed Amarnath Yatra and the facilities thereof for the devotees but added that the horticulture industry should not suffer in view of the Yatra.

The trade body urged the Union Territory administration to “save the livelihood” of lakhs of households, particularly the horticulture industry, and make immediate necessary arrangements for the transportation of fresh fruit-laden trucks on the highway without any interruption.

In North Kashmir’s Sopore fruit mandi, amongst the largest fruit markets in Asia, several fruit growers and traders protested today against stopping fruit trucks, which they said has compounded the financial burden on the local farmers. The fresh crisis came when the farmers were hoping to recover from years of losses.

Horticulture, especially Apple farming, is considered the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy, with more than 3 million people directly or indirectly dependent on the sector. The apple farmers have been consistently facing losses since 2016 due to political turmoil and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, we had good produce, but it could not reach the markets due to Iranian apples flooding the Indian market. This year the crop was good, but unfortunately, right now, the fruit-laden trucks are being stopped at the National Highway,” Fayaz Ahmad of the Sopore fruit mandi.

“The reason told to us is the Amarnath Yatra. We welcome the Yatris wholeheartedly, but our apple trucks should not be stopped,” he added.

The trade leaders in Sopore said the administration suggested they use the Mughal road as an alternative, but they said it was not feasible for heavy vehicles.

Over 40 trucks leave the Sopore Mandi every day, and the local traders said that what concerns them more is that the crisis will intensify when the demand surges.

“We are in touch with 450 fruit mandis throughout India. There is a festive season ahead, and in the coming days, the demand will increase where we will have to book more than 100 trucks daily,” Ahmad said.

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