Kashmir apple growers are sustaining heavy losses due to ‘distress sales’ of their fruit prompted by an acute shortage of Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage. Kashmir produces 2 mln tons of apples annually; with only 180,000 tons of CA storage capacity, growers are compelled to sell their produce at a relatively lower price due to fear of the fruit perishing.
Director General Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Greater Kashmir that the valley needs at least 500,000 tons of controlled storage capacity to fully benefit from the local produce. Bhat said that the department is ready to help entrepreneurs interested in setting up CA storages, adding the government pays them 50% subsidy.
He said that there was a need of awareness at the grassroots level to ensure that the small scale and medium scale growers too are benefited by the schemes. That said, the non-availability of round the clock electricity in rural areas of Kashmir poses a challenge for the CA storage industry, the Director General Horticulture said. “It is not possible to come up with a CA store in every part of the region.”