Turkey quake spurs demand for Kashmir apples
After facing crisis in a year of a bumper crop, Kashmir’s horticulture industry, the mainstay of its economy, is on revival this season as the earthquake in Turkey has hit the imports which have spurred the demand for indigenous Kashmir apples.
Apples stored in cold storage facilities in Kashmir are being currently shipped to various markets in Delhi and other cities on a war footing basis as the demand has increased considerably in the last few months.
President of Kashmir fruit growers and dealers association Bashir Ahmad Basheer said the rates of apples have almost doubled in the last one month as the Turkey earthquake has impacted exports of apples from the country to India.
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“From September to November 2022, an apple box weighing 16 kilograms would sell at Rs 500. Right now, the rates have gone up to Rs 1200 and above for a 10-kilogram apple box,” he said.
Basheer said as the flow of apple shipment from Iran and Turkey has been halted, the demand for Kashmir apple has increased. “Shipment from both the countries stopped. The cheaper variety of apples from the two countries has been affecting Kashmir’s apples,” he said.
Ali Mohammad Bhat, an apple dealer from north Kashmir’s Sopore said usually they would dispatch apples in cold stores to outside markets in April and May.” But this time as rates are better apples in cold stores are being shipped,” he said.
The Valley’s Rs 10,000-crore apply industry gives direct and indirect livelihood to around 3.5 million people. Kashmir on an average harvests 1.5-1.8 million metric tonnes of apple yearly, which is more than 75 per cent of India’s total production.
Last year, the crop had been good and the production was pegged at 2.1 million metric tonnes, leading to glut in the market and less than normal price. Around 1,64,854 hectares of land is under the cultivation of different varieties of apples in Kashmir.
The “illegal import” of Iranian apples was given as a reason by the growers for the low price. Fruit growers allege that the Iranian apple enters India without import duty as it is disguised as fruit from Afghanistan under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement.