Because of the outbreak of Covid-19, this year’s sales of watermelon have decreased by 50 percent in the Kashmir Valley. During the month of Ramadan, watermelon is usually in high demand, but people associated with this trade say that they are selling only half of what they used to in previous years.
President of the Parimpora fruit mandi, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, told The Kashmir Reader that in the month of Ramadan, every day 100 truckloads of watermelon used to be sold in the mandi. “It is the 19th day of Ramadan and only 40 to 50 truckloads are sold per day. One truck carries on average 10 tons of watermelon,” Basheer said.
“The watermelons go to several valley markets. The demand for them has been quite high in recent years due to increased temperatures in the valley, but this year due to the lockdown the sales have declined by 50 percent,” he added.
Ramadan is the peak time for watermelon sellers as the fruit is widely consumed in Kashmir at fast-breaking time. Huge imports of watermelon reach Kashmir and push other fruits to the edge during Ramadan. “But this year neither watermelon nor any other fruit is in much demand,” Basheer said.
Most supplies are transmitted to various districts of Kashmir valley from Parimpora mandi. Basheer said that there is no shortage of supply; rather, even the fruits that are there are getting spoiled as the fruit has a short shelf life. “The retail price of watermelon is just 15 rupees per kg as of now,” Basheer informed.
The retailers and vendors who sell fruits are also suffering losses. “In the last 19 days I have hardly sold 30 kg of water melon. People are avoiding it this year due to the risk of coronavirus. Last year I used to sell more than 50 kg per day,” said Bilal Ahmad, a fruit vendor at Safa Kadal.
People in Srinagar say they are avoiding fruits due to fear of coronavirus infection. Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar, said, “We don’t want to take a risk. We are a family of five and we used to eat one watermelon every day during Ramadan, but at this time we are avoiding it as the fruits come from outside.