Apple growers in north Kashmir worried about low prices

Sopore, Aug 13: Fruit growers and dealers operating from Sopore Fruit Mandi, Asia’s second-largest fruit market on Friday alleged that the government has failed miserably to boost this industry, saying top quality apples are not getting due price.

“As much as we spend in this business, we are getting very little profit which leaves us worried,” they said. Even grade A apples are not getting the proper price,” they said.

Apple cultivation is one of the mainstays of livelihood to about 3.5 million people and contributes about Rs 8,000 crore to the region. Kashmir produces about two million tonnes of apples and almost two-thirds of it goes to outside markets.

Speaking to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), fruit growers and dealers at Sopore fruit mandi say that even good quality apples are not getting a good price. “We are no longer profitable as the rates of fruits have almost been constant while expenditure incurred on the production of apples has increased twofold,” they said.

From transport to packaging, prices have gone up with little increase in price of apples, they added.

Mohammad Zubair, a fruit grower said that one of his orchards spread on 10 kanals incurred him an expenditure of Rs 4 lakh but the income generated is only Rs 2 lakh this year.

If the situation continues like this, soon every grower will realise that apple production is not profitable,” Maqsood Khan, another fruit dealer said.

Furthermore, the Sopore Fruit Mandi President, Fayaz Ahmad Malik echoed the same saying the sector is facing a crisis for the last few years.

“For the last few years, our expenses have increased due to which our business is affected,” he said.

He cited 18 percent GST that they are paying should either be scrapped or reduced, besides the KCC loans should be immediately waived off.

He pleaded with the administration to take such measures which will benefit them.

Meanwhile, the Fruit growers and dealers appealed to the LG led administration to pay more attention to this industry so that they will not suffer more in the future.

Director Horticulture Kashmir, Ghulam Rasool Mir was not available for comments despite several repeated attempts—(KNO)