Srinagar, May 09: Director General General Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Bhat on Monday said that they are expecting bumper crop of cherry and strawberry this year due the favorable weather season.
Strawberry followed by cherry are the season’s first crop in Kashmir.
“Kashmir annually produces 350 metric tons of strawberry on 43 hectares, while Jammu produces only 41 metric tons on 9 hectares. This year the weather is good and crops are also good. We have marketing facilities in place for strawberries,” he said.
The Director General said they have told the farmers that in case they need any kind of help in transportation and marketing of their produce, the department is ready to support them.
On the other hand, the valley annually produces 20,000 metric tons of cherry on 3000 hectare of land.
The places which produce cherry in huge quantities are Tangmarg, Baramulla, Srinagar, Ganderbal, Shopian etc.
“Though there was a hailstorm in some places. By and large there were rains on proper time and pollination was done on proper time,” Bhat said.
He said they are also expecting a 10-20 percent rise in cherry and strawberry produce this year.
The Director General said they are doing the marketing of the early season fruits under Parvaaz scheme and when transported by air they give 25 percent subsidy to the farmers.
“This year the market, as well as production of all perishable fruits, will be good as compared to previous years,” the Director General added.
The Horticulture Department is also planning to involve entrepreneurs for marketing.
“We have talked to growers for the marketing of C-grade cherries which could be used for making juice. We will provide material for that to ensure that it doesn’t go to waste,” he said.
Notably, the department has also introduced AC refer vans to ensure that fruits are taken to mandis on proper time adding that this year they have kept budget provision for it.
The fruit growers have seconded the Director General’s optimism for a good harvest
Mudasir Ahmad, who grows strawberries in Baramulla said the farmers are reaping benefits after a pause of two years.
Due to low shelf-life, strawberries are locally consumed in the valley.
The crop is produced in selected areas including Khimber, Dhara, Tangmarg, and Gussu.
He said the flow of this fruit will increase in the coming weeks as harvest in certain places is yet to start and some areas will harvest this fruit next week.
Many farmers said that due to the inclement weather conditions, the quality of the strawberry has been affected.
“March saw dry weather and April heavy rains. The weather pattern affects the quality of strawberries,” said Ahmad, a grower and a dealer of strawberries from Srinagar.
Unlike the previous years, as the weather improved the cheery produce has also improved and the growers or farmers are very happy and expect good returns.