Kashmir is famous for its picturesque landscape and lush green meadows and apart from tourism, fruit industry forming important constituent as far as Kashmir’s economy is concerned. It stands as a pillar of strength and plays a vital role in providing sustenance to a large number of people. Kashmir produces 12 lakh metric tons of fruit annually, while north Kashmir produces 60% and 40% by rest of the valley. Undoubtedly north Kashmir is a hub of fruits and has centric position in this business. The fruit industry generates over Rs.1500 crores income annually. Fruit Growers urge the government to motivate financial institutions to invest in the Horticulture sector and get the approved freight charges implemented.
The Fruit Industry received a severe dent during the period of turmoil and now the government has started focusing attention on the success and growth of this Industry as 5 lakh families earn their livelihood by adopting the practices in the Fruit Production. This is the reason that most of them converted Agricultural Land into orchards to earn bucks. Many varieties of fruits produced in the North Kashmir are of low quality, while the south Kashmir produces high quality because of the fertile and Kerwa lands .But now the focus is on grading, and packing of the fruits are mainly based on shooks (wooden boxes).
In order to come up to the desired level, the product presentation has to considered and given top priority by the planners of the state. Introduction of cardboard boxes and plastic bubble guard packages is need of the hour but it seems the government is not taking keen interests in implementation of these schemes which would help in achieving the three fold objectives. Firstly improvement in grading of apples, secondly creating good will in different markets of the country and thirdly, consumer satisfaction which should have been the prime objective of the producers, so that he may remain live in the market
The J & K Govt has opened fruit Mandi’s in different areas of Kashmir and some are functional at Shopian, Kulgam, Spore Charar I Sharief and Srinagar so that growers/ dealers need not to dispatch goods to other Mandi’s of India. This is with the hope, that growers/dealers will reap the benefits and enhance their economy and prosperity. Previously, this industry has suffered a lot due to natural calamities and recession in the market.
The state Govt has enacted some Market Regulation Act, but it seems that implementation of the same has not been carried out whole heartedly. It provides protection to the producer in selling his produce in the notified market and it will help him to get optimum returns and protect him from unnecessary dedications and mal practices.
Market Intervention Scheme introduced by the Govt has definitely given some relief to farmers but during the previous year, there was not much enthusiasm seen from the Govt side. While implementing the scheme, off grade apple is retained for processing purpose, which in terms raises the price of A & B grade apples dispatched outside state. The fruit industry needs optimum advances, which at present are arranged in Delhi fruit Mandi and other notified fruit Mandi’s of the country and banks have very limited role in this sector and hectic documentations procedure from the banks create chaos among fruit dealers.
Concerned departments should motivate the financial institutions to invest in Horticulture Sector that will help growers/ Dealers to decide freely in the market. This will reduce dependence on other markets. There should be fixed rates to transport all the variety of fruits to different parts of country so that the fruit dealers may not face any problem of overcharging and reduce the possibility of artificial scarcity of transport. Non availability of storage facility and scarcity of transportation in the busy season is a matter of concern which affects Grower/Dealers quite adversely.