Kashmir’s current security arrangements are affecting the shipments of apples, plums and pears from Jammu & Kashmir. The few truckers who are still operating have raised freight charges by 30% this week, meaning prices are likely to rise for these products in major markets.
Apples in the Delhi’s wholesale markets are currently selling at about Rs 50 a kg, but the price varies a lot, with the quality. Prices have been stable in the past week, but could rise 5-10% if the arrivals of the shipments are delayed, said traders. For plums and pears, which have a shorter shelf life, prices can increase by 10-12% from the current average of Rs 35 a kg for plum and Rs 50 a kg for pears.
And this comes at a time when India’s higher tariff on US apples will act as a boost for the local produce. India raised the duty on US apples by 20%, taking it to 70%.
Horticulture, particularly apple orchards, are central to local economic activity in J&K. The apple economy employs an estimated 3.5 million people in various stages of production and sale.
Traders said hardly any consignment has left the region in recent days, a worrisome fact given that it’s harvesting season in Kashmir. They fear heavy losses if fruit-laden trucks are stranded on way to markets outside the state, where most of the output is consumed.