The Kashmir cherry trees are blooming with luscious fruit but still, local growers are staring at massive losses due to limited demand amid the Covid-19 crisis. The railways have stepped in to ease farmers’ burden. Jammu and Kashmir officials said they had requested northern railways to help transport Kashmiri cherries from Amritsar.
Manzoor Ahmad Mir, deputy director horticulture planning and marketing, said, “From June 1, the Northern Railways will transport 4-6 metric tons of cherries daily from Amritsar to Delhi and Mumbai. We had requested them to transport the fruits from Jammu but that did not materialize.”
Mir said: “Kashmir has produced approximately 12,000 tons of cherry this year. Last year, the number was around 11,700 tons. The Valley annually sends around 3,500-4,000 tons of the fruit to other states.”
Despite having a good produce, farmers are a worried lot due to decrease in demand due to closure of markets and difficulties in transporting fruit from farms to the markets amid Covid-19 restrictions.
“The market is down and we are not getting a good price for cherries. I received Rs 45-50/kg this year against last year’s Rs 75-90/kg. The shops and markets here are closed,” said Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh, a farmer of Lar Ganderbal in central Kashmir.
“This year we were hoping to get a profit from the cherry crop as the apple produce was affected due to bad weather during flowering. Our livelihood and the education of our children are dependent on this. If something is not done immediately our families will suffer,” Sheikh said.
[ Rs100 = €1.20 ]