Transporting apples get costlier after Shopian attack

In this photograph taken on September 12, 2019, Ghulam Nabi Malik (R) and his brother Mohammad Yusuf Malik sit in their orchard as they talk about the crop of ripe apples at Malikgund village in Shopian district of southern Kashmir valley. (AFP photo)

As outside state truck drivers are fleeing Kashmir after last week’s attacks in Shopian district in which a driver and an apple trader were killed, the transportation rate of apples to outside state markets has skyrocketed.
 
The killing of a trucker, Sharif Khan from Rajasthan on October 14 and an apple trader, Charanjeet Singh from Ferozpur in Punjab, on October 16 created a wave of fear among non-local truck drivers, who were transporting the apples from Kashmir to other places of the country. Police has also directed the truckers not to go to interiors of the villages for loading apples in the trucks. 
 
The government has now established extra-loading points where more security has been provided for truckers and apple traders. “With recent attacks and police advisory, the outside truckers fear to go to interiors to load the apples. This has led to the increase in the freight,” president of Shopian Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, Mohammad Amin, told DH.

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He said they are already paying Rs 60-70 more than the normal rate per box and for last four days it has increased further by Rs 10. "Under normal circumstances, half of the trucks were loading apples from the orchards only. Presently we need 300-400 trucks and for loading them at the loading points we need at least 3000-4000 small load carriers but from where will we get those?" he asked.
 
His views were echoed by Fayaz Ahmad, president of the Fruit Growers and Traders Association in Sopore market, the second largest fruit market in the country. “First the growers and traders suffered losses due to clampdown on communication. Now the rates were better due to Diwali and all of sudden the attacks on the truckers and traders took place leading to shortage of trucks,” he said. 

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“The freight was up by 80 per cent as compared to last year and now for last few days it has again increased leading to losses for traders and growers”, Ahmad added.
 
Director Horticulture Marketing and Planning, Ghulam Mohammad Dar said despite lockdown and other problems faced by the traders, around 40,000 apple trucks were sent to outside Kashmir markets since August 5. 
 
While justifying the increase in freight, an office-bearer of a  truck association said, “Some of the trucks in Shopian are waiting for a load from last one-week. Usually a truck takes two-days to get loaded completely. However, the same process is taking more than 10-days now. We have no option but to increase the freight,” he added.

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