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Italy cherry varieties fetch good rates: Kashmir farmers

Jahangeer Ganaie

Srinagar, Jun 20: The newly imported cherry varieties from various countries, mainly Italy, are proving to be highly profitable for growers in Kashmir, even as the main traditional varieties await harvesting.

Growers across the valley told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that these new varieties are fetching good rates. While some traditional varieties ready at this time are also performing well, the main traditional harvest is yet to commence.

Despite the new varieties not matching the traditional ones in terms of crunch, colour and nutritional value, they are less susceptible to rain damage and therefore fetch better prices, they said, adding that traditional varieties are often damaged by even low-intensity rain, resulting in lower market rates.

Rashid Ahmad, a cherry grower from south Kashmir’s Shopian district, said that traditional varieties are frequently damaged by rain, even at low to moderate intensities. In contrast, the new varieties only suffer damage from very heavy rains, he said.

“Traditional varieties tend to ripen simultaneously, disrupting the supply and demand chain and forcing growers to sell at lower rates due to their short shelf life. However, the new varieties ripen at staggered intervals, maintaining a steady supply and demand chain, thus yielding higher profits,” he said.

Another grower Asif Ahmad said that among the traditional varieties currently ready for harvest is the Siyah variety, along with the new Italian varieties. All are fetching good returns similar to last year, he said, adding, “Cherries are being sold at around Rs 150 per kg, which, though not exceedingly high, is considered a good return.”

Growers said that while traditional varieties are typically harvested from mid-June to the first week of July, the new varieties extend the season to around two months. This prolonged season provides more job opportunities for both local and non-local manual workers.

Peer Muhammad Amin, President of Fruit Mandi Shopian, told KNO that cherry rates are currently favourable. He expressed hope that the trend will continue with the traditional varieties. “This is just the initial stage, and with the peak season of traditional varieties approaching, there is optimism for sustained demand and good prices,” Amin said.

A member of the Fruit Growers Association Kashmir said that approximately 85 percent of cherries are traditional, with most still awaiting harvest. The varieties being grown include Makhmali, Siyah, Awal Number, Italy, Jadi, Holland, Double, Mishry, Splendor and Steela.

According to official data, Kashmir produces over 15 lakh metric tonnes of cherries, making it the highest cherry-producing region in the country. Jammu and Kashmir has a total of 2,317 hectares under cherry cultivation, with Shopian, Ganderbal and Srinagar being the chief producing areas.

—(KNO)

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