Demands interest-free loans for 5 yrs, insurance for apple crop
The Valley-based apple growers have estimated 90 percent loss to orchards after Kashmir received its first snowfall earlier this month.
According to the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union (KVFG), an umbrella body of all fruit associations of Kashmir, apart from the damage to apple crop which was under harvest, 80 percent of fruit plants of all orchards of the Valley were uprooted after the recent untimely heavy snowfall.
The association also condemned the initial estimation of the Horticulture department which has quoted the losses of the fruit orchards to the tune of Rs 2250 crore which tantamount only to 35 percent.
“It is unfortunate that the Director Horticulture assessed the losses of the fruit orchards only to the extent of 35 percent when, on ground, the losses of fruit orchards are to the extent of about 90 percent,” KVFG President Bashir Ahmad Basheer said.
He said it would take at least 15 years for the growers to replace a fresh fruit plant with the broken ones.
Basheer said, as per the initial report of losses received from office bearers of KVFG, the minimum losses of the fruit orchards is Rs 5000 crore.
“The annual turnover of Horticulture sector is Rs 10,000 crore. So, even if we consider only 50 percent of damage, it still amounts to Rs 5000 crore losses,” he said.
“Similarly, on rejuvenation of fruit orchards, a grower has to wait for 15 years that means the actual losses are around Rs 75,000 crore,” Basheer said.
He said the Horticulture sector was the main contributors of J&K economy on which more than 7 lakh families were dependent for livelihood.
Basheer said the Director Horticulture Kashmir and Vice Chancellor of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K) should assess the actual losses of all fruit orchards of the Valley suffered due to the recent untimely heavy snowfall after physically visiting all fruit orchards of the Valley so that the factual position of the losses is ascertained.
“Immediate steps should be taken for the grant of suitable compensation of losses suffered by the fruit growers,” he said.
The fruit growers also demanded free of cost pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers for a period of five years.
“The fruit growers should also be granted interest-free loans for five years so that they may be in a position to re-build their fruit orchards afresh. Moreover, there is a need for implementing crop insurance scheme separately for apple crop and fruit plants,” Basheer said.