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Kashmir apple orchardists worried about weather forecast and labor exodus

Many Kashmir farmers are working late in the night to harvest their produce as quickly as they can. "We have been picking apples since 6 in the morning and we hope we finish it before October 22," said one apple orchardist from Kanipora village. He added that bad weather forecasts had unsettled the entire apple industry and made the growers feel uneasy and worried. Around 50 to 60 percent of the fruit, according to the growers, has not been yet harvested.

Mohammad Ashraf Wani, former president of Fruit Mandi Shopian, said that the apple picking in the higher reaches of the Valley began only a couple of weeks ago and ‘most of the fruit is still on the trees’: "Even a light snowfall or wind could spoil the entire produce.”

The labor shortage due to the exodus of migrant workers in the wake of the recent targeted killings in the region has also made things difficult for the apple growers. According to the orchardists, the thousands of non-native laborers leaving not only stymied the harvesting process, but also led to labor costs shooting up significantly.


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