Apple Garden (Photo Credit: NewsNation)
Kashmir’s apple industry is fighting recession and losses for the second consecutive year. COVID19 pandemic has led to the fall in the cultivation of apples in the valley. The farmers couldn’t spray the apple orchards this year due to the lockdown which resulted into less apple cultivation as well as unhealthy apples on trees.
Mohd Yaqoob, apple farmer from South Kashmir’s Anantnag District, says that they are incurring huge losses this year due to the Covid Pandemic. He says ‘We have incurred major losses this year, due to COVID pandemic. We couldn’t spray the orchards. We are facing a lot of issues. The apple box which used to sell for 800 Rupees is now being sold for 100-150 Rupees. People who are taking this outside are also facing issues. We are requesting government to come to our rescue. This is our livelihood and our families are dependent on this'. While Pandemic did play a big spoiler this year for the apple farmers, weather in the valley was also not favorable for them. With no rains in the last two months across the valley, the quality of apples has largely been affected.
Aqib Mir was hopeful that the losses incurred last year will be compensated by apple production this year. But, he says they are going through the worst due to the pandemic and no rains. Mir says that as there has been no rain this year, the quality of apple has been affected. He adds further that the major reason for fall in production was that no apple garden was sprayed at the right time this year. Jammu Kashmir Horticulture Industry is the major contributor for its economy. Around 8 percent of GDP of UT comes from this industry with over 6 Lakh people associated with the industry. Two main reasons for significant decline in apple production in valley includes untimely rains in April and May and the beehives that came from outside after winter. Due to ongoing COVID19 pandemic, those beehives could not be transported in time this year. This has resulted in less production,” said Ajaz Ahmad, Director Horticulture.