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Cherry orchardists in Ganderbal face low rates and weather challenges

Ganderbal district, recognized for its significant contribution to Kashmir's cherry production, covering 60 percent of the region's output with approximately 1,200 hectares dedicated to cherry cultivation, is experiencing a downturn. An estimated 5,000 growers engaged in the trade are facing challenges, including disappointing market rates and adverse weather conditions, particularly heavy rains in April, which have severely impacted the crop yield.

According to the Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the cultivation areas include Chunt Waliwar, Gulabpora, Lar, Gutlibagh, Wakura, Dab, Batwina, and parts of Kangan, producing varieties like Awwal Number, Double, Mishri, and Makhmali. Despite their efforts in plucking, packing, and selling at the Zazna Fruit Mandi, growers have no direct market control and are currently receiving prices up to 60 percent lower than the previous year, exacerbating their concerns over potential financial losses due to the perishable nature of cherries.

The harvesting season showcases the vibrancy of the local markets, yet the growers report a significant decrease in quality and quantity due to the weather. "This year, our crop was almost 60% damaged by the heavy rains last month. We are only getting 18 to 22 percent of what we usually harvest. Last month's heavy rains, combined with a lack of effective treatments, are the main reasons for this damage," explained Nissar Khan, a farmer from Gutlibagh. The diminished quality has led to a substantial amount of the harvest being unsuitable for sale, placing additional financial strain on the growers.

Amid these challenges, the growers are calling for governmental intervention to help mitigate the effects of such unpredictable weather patterns and ensure the sustainability of their livelihoods in the future.


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