Lockdown may spoil Kashmir’s apple industry

Srinagar, March 23 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the authorities have ordered shutdown of all establishments except those providing essential services and commodities across Jammu and Kashmir from Sunday evening till March 31.

Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam in a letter to all 20 deputy commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir said, “The shutdown will come into effect from 8 pm on Sunday till 6 pm on March 31.” He said the shutdown was necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and break the transmission chain of the virus.

Meanwhile, the latest move by the IOK authorities may take a sizeable bite off the indebted apple industry in Kashmir. According to owners of cold storages based at Lasipora and Aglar in South Kashmir, 80 percent of the apple stock is still lying with them amid the lockdown imposed in the name of coronavirus.

Many traders in media interviews said they were apprehensive about the stored fruit. “The restrictions are being intensified day by day and a large chunk of our fruit is lying in stores,” Imtiyaz Ahmad, who has stored his apples at Lasipora cold storage in Pulwama district, said.

Surpassing the previous figures of one lakh metric tonnes of apple, around 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of apple was stored this year in cold storages based at Industrial Growth Center Lasipora in Pulwama, Aglar in Shopian district, and in some parts of north Kashmir.

“There is, so far, no decline in rates. But the coming days will tell whether the trucks can supply the fruit to different parts of India,” said Javid Ahmad, a trader who has stored apples in cold storage.

Izhan Javid, chief executive officer of a company trading in apples, said that almost 80 percent of the stored apple is still lying in the valley. “If restrictions continue to be imposed, it would lead to heavy losses. Normally apple can be stored for a maximum of seven months, after which it starts getting spoiled,” he said.


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