Coronovirus lockdown likely to hit horticulture sector
August clampdown, snowfall had earlier created havoc, say growers
Pulwama: The coronavirus spread is creating ripples on the economic front and Kashmir’s horticulture Industry is likely to fall victim to the deadly virus as growers predict heavy losses in the coming months.
“The horticulture Industry in Kashmir valley was yet to come to terms following the August 5 clampdown and the untimely snowfall. We were still to come out of the previous year’s shock that the coronavirus lockdown has hit the industry,” Mohammad Shafi, a fruit grower in Shopian said.
According to the growers from different areas of Kashmir, their 80% of the Apple produce is still lying with them in cold chain stores amid the lockdown imposed on contain the deadly coronovirus.
They said that they are very much worried as the restrictions are being intensified across India in order to contain the coronovirus spread.
“We have around one thousand boxes of Apple in cold chain storage at Lassipora but we are very much worried if lockdown continues for some more weeks. The apples will rot in cold chains and we won’t be even able to compensate our loses,” said Shafi.
He said that the stored produce cannot be transported outside the valley and if the fruit reaches the mandi in Delhi and other parts, who will come forward to purchase it.
As per the information available will horticulture department, around 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apples are in cold storage at Industrial Growth Centre Lassipora Pulwama and Aglar in Shopian.
Assistant Manager at a cold storage unit, ‘Master Pro’ in Lassipora, Ansar Ul Haq said that around 80% of apples that were stored in cold storages this year is still lying here.
“If lockdown continues for a month or two, it will lead to heavy loss,” he said, adding that cold storage increases the shelf life of Apple by five to six months after which it starts to rot.
“Apple packing and transportation has been stopped on the directions of government and growers are very much worried due to the lockdown,” Ansar added.
Pertinently, the horticulture industry is the backbone of the state’s economy and the minimal revenue turnover it provides is about be Rs 8,000 crore and more than 33 lakh individuals are involved in the sector at its various stages.
The Rs 8,0000-crore horticulture industry, considered to be the Valley’s backbone, has 1,44,825 hectares under apple cultivation in Kashmir’s ten districts. Government records reveal the average annual apple production in the Valley is 18 lakh metric tons.