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Kashmir Cold Storage Industry Calls for Unity and Fairness Amidst Apple Market Turmoil

Ziraat Times News Network

Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir Fruits & Vegetables Processing & Integrated Cold Chain Association (JKPICCA) has strongly condemned what it calls “the vilification public campaign launched against the Cold Storage Industry.” With the view of clarifying issues for the information of the general public particularly the apple growing community of J&K, the JKPICCA in a statement issued to Ziraat Times states as under:

1. That the Cold Storage industry has deep concern and full sympathies with the Apple Growing community and all stakeholders of Kashmir Valley who are suffering a crash in the market prices of apples this year; and

2. That the Cold Storage fraternity is a fledging industry, which started operations in the Valley only since the year 2008 and most of the stores are operating at huge financial costs.

3. That the partnership between the growers and the stores has been steadily growing stronger and the JKPICCA has been supportive of the requirements of the growers throughout this period; and

4. Having said that, the terms and conditions of the partnership are based on various evolving factors and in the larger interest of maintaining brotherhood amongst various stakeholders, the JKPICCA restrained from responding directly in spite of foul accusations aimed at lowering the image of our industry; and

5. That there have been unsubstantiated allegations in the media recently which accuse the Cold Storage Units holders of high headedness and unfair practices. In this regard, the accusation that cardboard boxes provided by the unit holders are inferior quality and that it is mandatory for our customers to use them is outrightly rejected. The practice of providing cardboard boxes has been in vogue since the year 2008 and was based on non-availability of quality boxes earlier and the service was only provided to assist in proper packing of the produce. It is not mandatory for Growers to use the boxes provided by us which are in no way inferior to those available in the market.

6. That the market price of an apple box presently has regretfully hit a record time low which appears to have made unit holders a target of unwarranted criticism. It should be noted that when the season is good and prices per box touch record high the cold store unit holders do not demand a greater share in the profits. It would be equally unreasonable for any customer, who stores the produce in the store at his own risk and reward, to target settled conditions of the contract; and

7. That the accusation that the Cold Store owners compel the fruit growers to sell their produce at lowest possible rates is preposterous and misconceived. As explained in the press statement of the stakeholders itself, the crash in prices is only triggered by a number of external as well as internal factors like adverse weather conditions, use of spurious pesticides, lack of regulatory oversight and strategic planning in development of cold store infrastructure, unchecked proliferation of new units has significantly contributed to the market crash in the current year owing to over supply and disturbed market dynamics. The mandis have been flooded with more produce than they can handle in off season months. The arrival of imported apples for which our shared concern is on record and No unit holder can compel any customer to sell their produce at lowest rates to the cold store units.

8. That all the members of JKPICCA are bound to follow ethical business practices and are governed by principles of fair trade followed by the industry all over the world. There is no deviation in this regard and any accusation pointing otherwise is defamatory and triggered by current market pressures on the stakeholders as no complaint against any of our associated unit holders has so far been brought to our notice during the sixteen years since the establishment of the Cold Storage industry. The price volatility in the fresh produce business is governed by many external factors  apple business is The unfair targeting of our industry through a smear campaign is condemnable and stakeholders are advised to exercise caution and restraint in their public statements against the Cold Storage industry of Kashmir.

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