Srinagar, September 11: Ghulam Nabi Malik general secretary Jammu & Kashmir Kisan Tehreek (JKKT) on Friday said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration must ensure that trucks laden with fruit are allowed to ply on NH44 without any hindrance so that it reaches outside Kashmir mandies without any damage.
The fruit industry in Kashmir faced economic consequences due to the lockdown imposed after the Centre abrogated Article 370 last August. And then unseasonal snowfall on November 7 last year wreaked havoc followed by another lockdown in March after Covid19 pandemic.
From transportation, and a slump in rates, fruit growers faced multiple problems in selling produce last season. Last year sky-rocketing freight prices and undue stoppages of apple-laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway badly hit Kashmir’s fruit growers. The halting of fruit trucks on the highway created a crisis-like situation as delays caused huge losses to the perishable fruits.
J&K administration must not only ensure smooth flow of fruit laden trucks along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway this time but also control the transportation charges. These problems only compound the fruit growers’ trouble, which include the sales of substandard pesticides and fertilizers in the market and a lack of cold storage facilities.
The J&K administration should also make arrangements to purchase the “C” Grade fruit through Market intervention Scheme, like Himachal Pradesh is doing. The “C” grade fruit could be sold to the fruit processing units in J&K at concessional rates, which are presently defunct. By doing so, not only the growers will be benefited, but defunct fruit processing units could be made functional.
Survival of lakhs of people associated with the horticulture sector is at stake. People associated with horticulture in J&K constitute a considerable percentage of total employment in the region. It is imperative upon the administration to make preparations for smooth transportation of apples early so that growers and traders don’t have to face a 2019 like situation.