This year, the Kashmir stone fruit crop seems abundant. As first in line for the harvest, these fruits pave the way for commercial activities of growers and sellers by finding their way into the local mandis where auction per packaged box slowly catches the pace. But amidst the jackpot crop production and wealthy speculations, all is not well with its current market value and continuous price fluctuations.
India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world -after China- and as per the estimates of National Horticulture Database published by National Horticulture Board, during 2019-20, India produced 99.07 million tons of fruits.
Ever since the advent of the Covid-19 outbreaks in India, the demand for fresh fruits, especially stone fruits and their products, tremendously increased due to numerous health benefits and as an excellent source of vitamin C, K, E, and B6 with additional anti-oxidant benefits.
Despite good varieties of peach, plum, cherry, apricot, and green almond, grown strenuously in Kashmir, the post-harvest scenario is unpleasant. Firstly, due to substandard and toxic chemical sprays applied for fast ripening and color allurement, harvested crops fall prey to the very short shelf life and in turn leads to coercion sales of the stock at local mandis as growers fear the fast-rotting tendencies of harvested stock.
Secondly, applied chemicals and pesticides on them have an impinge on local consumers trepidation of health problems like diarrhoea, intestinal discomfort masking their health benefits.
Thirdly, transportation time taken to sell at the high consumption demand destination like Delhi, Maharashtra etc the along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and nowadays the continuous movement of Amarnath pilgrims hinders the movement of fruit laden trucks.