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Apple trade from Kashmir sees a 44% dip in October-end, militant attacks blamed

On average each day in October, only 3,200 metric tonnes of apples came from Kashmir to Azadpur Mandi compared to 18,250 metric tonnes in the same period last year.

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New Delhi: Apple export from Jammu and Kashmir has seen a sharp decline after 12 non-local civilians, including traders, were killed in a series of militant attacks across the Valley since 14 October.

According to the daily data of Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, which is Asia’s largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables, there has been a 44 per cent decline in the quantity of apples arriving from Kashmir in the last week of October (from 24 to 31) compared to the previous week.

While 26,969 metric tonnes of apples had arrived in the last week of October, the figure stood at 47,900 metric tonnes in the week prior to it (16-23 October). From 8-15 October,  24,031 metric tonnes had arrived, and 18,943 metric tonnes were recorded from 1-7 October at the mandi.

“After the attacks, a lot of trucks which were heading towards the Valley on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, were stopped for about a week which resulted in a decline of apple export,” Vijay Singh of the Kashmiri Apple Merchant Association in Delhi told ThePrint.

“Also some truckers have refused to carry apples in and out of the Valley after these attacks.”

The attacks began on 14 October, when militants shot dead a truck driver from Rajasthan in Shopian’s Shirmal village and assaulted an orchard owner in Shopian district. Two days later, on 16 October, three non-Kashmiris — a fruit trader, a labourer and a truck driver — were killed in two separate incidents in Pulwama and Shopian areas of the Valley.

Militants again intercepted two more fruit-laden trucks in Chitragam village in south Kashmir’s Shopian on 24 October and killed one Illyas Khan, a resident of Alwar, Rajasthan, and injured another. On 29 October, five labourers from West Bengal were shot dead in the Kulgam region.

“Many truckers and labourers are returning from the Valley after the attacks. Eight out of my 33 truckers, who I have already paid in advance, have refused to go and load the remaining stock of the pre-harvest contract apples from Meemandar in Shopian,” Ramphal Panwar, an apple trader from Azadpur Mandir, told ThePrint.

Business in the union territories have already been suffering from massive losses in the wake of communication blockade, restrictions and protests after the central government decided to revoke J&K’s special status on 5 August.

Also read: Govt to procure apples directly from Jammu & Kashmir farmers

Overall decline in apple export 

Officials of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Azadpur Mandi said the export of apples wasn’t affected this much even in the aftermath of the months-long protests that took place following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016. The daily average quantity of Kashmiri apples that arrived at the mandi in October that year was 17,680 metric tonnes.

The APMC officials said only 3,200 metric tonnes of apples had come from Kashmir on an average every day in October. The corresponding figure for October last year was around 18,250 metric tonnes each day.

“Around 1,000-1,200 trucks loaded with apples arrived from Kashmir daily in the first week of October last year. This year, on an average, just 400-600 trucks laden with apples have come from the Valley,” said one of the APMC officials, who did not want to be named.

“Though we are through the mid-harvest season of Kashmiri apples, the number of trucks arriving from the Valley is very low. There is an overall decrease of 20-30 per cent in arrival of apples from J&K this year compared to last time,” APMC chairman Adeel Khan told ThePrint.

Apple season in the Valley starts from September and peaks around October.

Also read: Kashmir sees 84% less tourists in October — internet ban, terror attacks make matters worse

NAFED intervention has not helped

To help apple traders in the Valley tide over the crisis, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) had stepped in to procure apples directly from growers. NAFED had also increased the minimum procurement price of apples.

A senior NAFED official, who did not want to be named, told ThePrint that despite increasing the minimum procurement price by Rs 8-13 per kg, it has been only able to procure just 3.65 lakh tonnes of apples from the Valley, which is not even half of its initial procurement estimate of 10-12 lakh tonnes.

“There is also a backlog of transferring payment directly into the bank accounts of farmers because of the internet clampdown. Of the 4,200 farmers registered with NAFED in the Valley, only 1,800 have received the amount in the account,” the official added.

Most of the farmers registered with NAFED are from Anantnag. The federation had initially established a procurement centre at Anantnag, which was later extended to Handwara and Pulwama.

However, according to sources at NAFED, the Pulwama centre was opened to tap apple production in Shopian district, which accounts for half of the Valley’s produce.

“Both centres at Pulwama and Handwara have only procured 31,000 tonnes apples so far. NAFED has to complete the process of procurement by 15 December,” the official further said.

Kashmir one of India’s leading apple producers 

According to the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), J&K’s share in apple production of India had jumped from 64 per cent in 2014-15 to 77.7 per cent in 2017-18.

During the same period, apple production in the Valley also rose from 13.68 lakh tonnes to 18.08 lakh tonnes. In the same period, apple production in Himachal Pradesh had dropped by almost 10 per cent – from 6.25 lakh tonnes to 4.46 lakh tonnes.

Also read: Govt deal no lifesaver for Kashmir apple-growers, could leave them poorer


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  1. There are hardly any scientific studies on the national economic impact of demonetisation. Kashmir being a much smaller geographical entity should pose fewer problems. Whether it is tourism, the fruit trade, other businesses, the figures should be compiled. These could prove useful while devising a special economic package for the state, to bring it the promised prosperity.

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