Official apathy, a problem for J&K's fruit industry

Official apathy, a problem for J&K's fruit industry

The fruit industry, one of the backbones of Kashmir Valley’s economy, is in recession from the last few years owing to official apathy and adverse climate.

Official figures reveal Kashmiri fruit growers suffered losses to the tune Rs 1,565 crore during 2014-15 fiscal due to rains and floods.

According to a report prepared by state Horticultural Department, of the 2,36,058 hectare under fruit crops, 1,27,232 hectare area was affected due to rains and floods in 2014- 15, “which caused 11,19,738 metric tonnes fruit production loss to the growers”. Fruit production during 2014-15 went down by 52.9%.

The report states that leaf fall, fruit drop during and after floods, non-harvesting of fruit crops, accumulation of water in and around orchard areas, erosion of orchard land, siltation in the orchards areas, uprooting of fruit trees, post-harvest damages to fruit crop, poor quality and poor shelf life were the main reasons of the huge decline in fruit production.

The growers said the SK University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) has failed to help them increase productivity and protect the crop from contracting diseases. They said the role of the Horticulture Department and the university in developing the sector was negligible.

“Several diseases have affected our crop in the past and the SKUAST has failed to address the problems. Alternaria is a disease which spreads in apple due to fluctuations in the weather. For 2 years, our scientists had no clue about the disease,” Abdul Majeed, a fruit grower from north Kashmir, told DH.

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