Producers report that output is down this year compared to prior years, but quality is up, and the majority of Kashmiri apple growers are now keeping their fruit in cold storage units.
Apple growers in the valley of Kashmir are eager to retain more fruit in cold storage units this season after making a high return on produce kept in cold storage units last year.
Growers from various areas of southern Kashmir informed Digpu News that they stored the majority of their harvest in cold storage units in 2019, but suffered severe losses since they were unable to sell their produce in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
With improved quality, this year’s produce is fit for cold storage
In 2020, nearly 50% of output was maintained in cold storage units compared to 2019. However, despite COVID-19 limitations this year, apple demand remained quite strong throughout the year, resulting in good returns.
According to the growers, production is down this year compared to previous years, but the quality is improved, and most growers are now storing their fruit in cold storage units.
Most ‘delicious’ apples are stored in cold storage units, however this year 30 to 40 per cent of those units have already been filled with ‘Kulu delicious’ apples, as per Mohammad Akram, a Pulwama grower.
Cold storage units double the prices of apple produce
The orchardist said that an apple box weighing approximately 15 kg is normally sold for around Rs 800 to 1200, while the same apple box maintained in cold storage units was sold for around Rs 1800 to 2000 last year. This is the reason why more individuals choose to keep their produce in cold storage units.
All cold storage units almost full this year
Mehraj Ahmad, manager of one of SIDCO Lassipora’s cold storage units, opines that their store is full before they even expected its 50 per cent capacity to get occupied.
Another store’s senior employee, without naming himself, stated that their plant’s capacity of two lakh apple boxes has reached its full capacity.
Cold storage units, according to him, have changed the horticulture market by allowing growers to sell their products as per their convenience without any hassles.
Apart from benefitting growers, employment opportunities have risen
It needs to be mentioned that hundreds of people are employed because of cold storage units, and labourers are also in demand as well because the process of picking apples is now year-round due to the cold storage facilities in the UT.
In Kashmir valley alone, there are around 40 cold storage facilities, the majority of which are located in SIDCO Lassipora.
The horticulture sector is recognized as the backbone of the Kashmir economy since it employs over 60 per cent of the people and generates around 25 lakh metric tons of apples per year on average.
Dil-Paziir (Urdu; meaning ‘heart pleasing‘) is a special edition positive news series brought to you by Digpu, sourced from conflict areas, starting from Kashmir. Our local journalists have successfully shared many inspirational stories from the valley – from the invention of E-Charkha, automatic ventilator in Kashmir, stories of brotherhood through to the first-ever cricket tourney for Blind sportsmen, all the stories make us awe-struck. These are NOT FOR REPRODUCTION.