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Low rates, adverse weather hits cherry growers in Valley

Raja Syed Rather

 

Ganderbal, June 7: Low rates have disappointed cherry orchardists in Ganderbal district known for juicy and delicious varieties of red cherry.

The top most cherry producing district with 60 percent total production of cherry in Kashmir has approximately around 1200 hectares of land under its cultivation.

A rough estimate suggests that about 5000 growers are associated with the trade.

As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the areas where cherry is produced includes Chunt Waliwar, Gulabpora, Lar, Gutlibagh, Wakura, Dab, Batwina and some areas of Kangan. The varieties include Awwal Number, Double, Mishri and Makhmali which are exported to the other states but the growers have no direct control on dealing with the market.

The fruit is plucked from trees and packed by these growers with the help of paid labourers and then sold at nearby Fruit mandi at Zazna. The growers apprehend losses due to decline of prices upto 60 percent compared to the last year.

Cherries are extremely perishable with a very brief shelf-life so growers are fearing huge losses due to the present situation of the market where they are getting the rates which they used to get at the end of harvest.

The cherry harvest season is in full swing across the Kashmir Valley with vibrant fruit containers adorning markets in both towns and villages. The growers cite significant challenges this year due to adverse weather conditions particularly the heavy rains in April, which have severely impacted the cherry crop.

“This year, our crop was almost 60% damaged by the heavy rains last month. We are only getting 18 to 22 percent of what we usually harvest. Last month’s heavy rains, combined with a lack of effective treatments, are the main reasons for this damage,” said Nissar Khan, a farmer from Gutlibagh.

The impact of the weather is evident in the quality of the cherries. “The fruit we are able to pick is so poor that only three out of every ten cherries are good enough to pack in containers. The rest are discarded,” Khan added. This significant loss has left farmers struggling to cover their costs, including wages for workers.

Despite these challenges, the markets are still seeing an influx of cherries, though in reduced quantities.

The farmers in Ganderbal and elsewhere in the Valley are urging for support and solutions to mitigate the impact of such erratic weather in the future. They hope for better conditions in the coming seasons to ensure the sustainability of their livelihood.

These growers have appealed that the government should intervene and come to the rescue of these growers—(KNO)

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