Strawberries, one of the first fruits of the summer season in Kashmir, have hit the market. However, the reception up until now has been poor. Several traders and vendors said that the price of strawberries has dropped by nearly 50% compared to last year.
Mohmmad Yaseen, who runs Bhat Trading Company, told The Kashmir Reader that last year the demand for the fruit was very high. “Last year we sold one tray of strawberries (2 kg) at a price of Rs 400 to 450, but this year we are selling it for just Rs 200 to 250. There is not much demand due to the COVID-19 lockdown.”
He added that every year he received supplies of 2,000 kg of strawberries from growers but this year he has only ordered 1,000 kg to 1,200 kg because of the low rates in the wholesale market.
Retail shops and transport are shut in the valley due to the lockdown. Growers were expecting good prices for strawberry just like every year but little did they know how the situation would turn.
“The buying capacity of people has gone down, first due to the lockdown imposed after abrogation of Article 370 (in August) and now due to this Cocvid-19. People want to save as much money as they can. When they can’t even buy staple food, how will they buy fruits,” said Mohammad Rasool, a horticulturalist.
He said that the returns are not good although his harvest increased this year to 400 trays as compared to 350 last year. He added that the shelf life of strawberry is quite brief.
President of the fruit traders’ association at Parimpora Mandi, Bashir Ahmad Bashir, said that traders are staring at losses ‘as there seems to be no end to the lockdown.’ “There is a 50% dip in rates of strawberries, In the coming days they may go down further. There is local consumption of strawberry but it’s not to the extent that all our produce can be consumed within the valley itself. From grower to street vendor, everyone is suffering loss,” Bashir said.
[ Rs100 = €1,20 ]