Bumper strawberry produce in Kashmir, but market closure leads to huge losses

May 27, 2021 | Economic Suppression

Srinagar: It was a bumper produce year for strawberry growers in Jammu and Kashmir. The crop saw about a 20% increase but it did not turn out to be a cause for cheer for the farmers.

High produce has very little value with no market available due to COVID-19 lockdown in the region. The farmers said the government hasn’t even thought about them, let alone trying to rescue their crops.

Manzoor Ahmad, a farmer in Srinagar’s Batapora area, is among the leading strawberry growers in the valley. He says they have incurred more than 50-60 percent losses.

”If we compare it to last year, we have 20 percent extra produce this time and also the fruit quality is really good. But due to lockdown we have no customers and we are incurring huge losses. Our rates have gone down and the government is doing nothing. Our main source of income is strawberry farming and due to lockdown we have to bear 50-60 percent losses this year. Earlier, we used to sell this in different districts, also to vendors on the boulevard, downtown or other areas. We even sold in Ganderbal, Shopian and north Kashmir districts,” said Manzoor Ahmad.

These farmers are completely on their own and have time and again approached the government for cold storage for strawberries as the fruit has a small shelf life.

”Government has zero role in this, we sell it ourselves in mandis. We request the government to at least make cold storage or make a policy as they have for saffron or orchards or cherries. People should get interested in farming but they are losing it due to no schemes. Last year, we had around 100 hectares of land utilised for strawberry farming but this year it was only 70-80 only,” said Manzoor Ahmad.

Another strawberry farmer said that last year even during the lockdown, they managed to sell their produce to local people but this year with no traffic and no open market the rates have gone down.

”Production was good this year, and with no market, we have to throw our produce away. Even if we have produced more fruit this year, we are still going to bear losses,” said farmer Shabir Ahmad.

The farmers are hoping that the state government would come to their rescue by either helping them in the storage of the produce or in selling the fruit in different markets.

Author: Idrees Lone
Publication: Zee News