Bumper strawberry produce in Kashmir, but lack of market leads to huge losses

SrinagarWritten By: Idrees LoneUpdated: May 26, 2021, 06:21 PM IST

Strawberry farming in Kashmir Photograph:(WION)

Story highlights

High produce has very little value with no market available due to COVID-19 lockdown across the region

This is a bumper produce year for strawberry growers in Kashmir. On average, the crop has seen 20 per cent increase, but this is not a cause of cheer for the growers. 

High produce has very little value with no market available due to COVID-19 lockdown across the region. The farmers allege the government hasn’t tried to rescue their crops.

Manzoor Ahmad, a strawberry farmer in Srinagar's Batapora area, is among the leading strawberry growers in the valley. He says they have incurred more than 50-60 per cent losses. 

''If we compare it to last year, we have had 20 per cent extra produce this time and also the fruit quality is really good. However, due to lockdown, we have no customers, and we are incurring huge losses. Our rates have gone down and the government is doing nothing," said Manzoor Ahmad, a strawberry farmer.

 "Our main source of Income is strawberry farming and due to lockdown, we have to bear 50-60 per cent losses this year. Earlier, we used to sell this in different districts, also to vendors on the boulevard, downtown or other areas. We even sold in ganderbal, shopian and north Kashmir districts."

The farmers are completely on their own and have time and again approached the government for cold storage for strawberries as the fruit has a small shelf life. 

''Government has zero role in this, we sell it ourselves in mandis. We request the government to at least make cold storage or make a policy as they have for saffron or orchards or cherries. People should get interested in farming but they are losing it due to no schemes. Last year, we had around 100 hectares of land utilised for strawberry farming but this year it was only 70-80," Ahmad said.

Another strawberry farmer claimed that last year even during the covid lockdown, they managed to sell it to local people but this year with no traffic and no open market, the rates have gone down and there is no one to buy. 

''Production was good this year, and with no market, we have to throw our produce away. Even if we have produced more fruit this year, we are still going to bear losses," said Shabir Ahmad, farmer. 

The farmer's only hope is if the state government comes to their rescue by either helping them in the storage of the produce or in selling the fruit in different markets.