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What is troubling world famous Kashmiri apple and its growers?

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 at 5:52 pm

Growing of apples is traditionally considered identical with Kashmir but apple growers in the valley are facing heavy losses.

Due to the shortage of Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage it is getting difficult for growers to sell the apples before it gets perished. Moreover from saving the apple to get perished apple growers are forced to sell their produce at a lower price.

The CA storage system provides an optimum supply of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen besides humidity and temperature to preserve edible items for longer period.

As per official figures, Kashmir annually produces 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples but only 1.80 lakh metric tonnes of CA storage capacity is available.

According to Director General Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat the valley needs at least five lakh metric tonnes of controlled storage capacity to fully benefit from the local produce.

As per Director General Horticulture, across Jammu and Kashmir there are 40 CA stores, with Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) in Lassipora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama alone has 23 CA stores. Remaining 17 stores are in different districts, including Shopian, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Jammu.

Bhat further added that in order to set up a CA store, it is important that the particular area has round the clock electricity, good road connectivity and water supply. He added that if these things are not available in sufficient amount then CA store will be a failure.

But, according to President of New Kashmir Fruit Association, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, who is also the chairman of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union Kashmir, an amalgam of all the fruit traders and growers unions, the administration and the growers are not able to utilize properly even the CA stores already available in the valley.

Basheer said that it is a lack of knowledge about horticulture, carelessness of successive J&K governments and apprehensions about fruits getting perished have limited farmers to grow medium quality fruit on a bigger scale.

Mohammad Ashraf, an apple grower and president of Fruit Mandi Shopian said that early produce of apple if switching to high density farming will increase the production of apple. He further said that if CA stores are not available then these apples will be perished and as well increase the competition of Kashmiri apples with that of apples traded from Himachal Pradesh.

Ashraf further said that more CA stores will help in keeping the Kashmiri apple in the market throughout the year which will increase the country’s economy.