Srinagar, Jul 12: The new varieties of cherry imported from various countries, mainly Italy, are bringing handsome gains to the growers in Kashmir while traditional varieties are being sold at peanuts.
The growers from across the valley said the new varieties of cherry imported to Kashmir have been fetching good rates while traditional ones were sold at low rates.
Though the new varieties cannot compete with traditional varieties in the crunch, colour and nutritional value, these are less vulnerable to rain and fetch good rates, they said, adding that the traditional ones get damaged with even low-intensity rain and fetch low rates.
Rashid Ahmad, a cherry grower from south Kashmir’s Shopian district, said traditional varieties often become victims of rain as they get damaged even with low to moderate-intensity of downpours. The new varieties are less vulnerable to moderate rains and get damaged only if rains are very heavy, he said.
The traditional varieties are mostly ripening at the same stage thereby failing to maintain the supply and demand chain, Ahmad said, adding that with very little life shelf, the growers are forced to sell them at low rates.
However, the new varieties of cherry are ripening at different stages, thereby maintaining the supply and demand chain and are fetching handsome gains, he added.
Another grower Junaid Ahmad, who has orchards of both traditional and new varieties, said he sold traditional varieties at Rs 30 to 50 per kg while the new varieties, mainly the ones from Italy, are sold at Rs 100 to 130 per kg. The rates showed some improvement as compared to last year; however, they weren’t even 50 percent of the rates compared to 2021, he said.
The traditional varieties were damaged by rains and hailstorms, and there have also been some issues in transportation due to which they fetched low rates, though better as compared to last year, the growers said.
According to growers, the traditional varieties are harvested from mid-June to the first week of July only, but with the new varieties, the season remains for around two months. As the season remains going for months together, it provides jobs to both local and non-local manual workers for more days, they said.
Peer Muhammad Amin, President Fruit Mandi Shopian said that the rates of cherry were good as compared to last year; however, they were very low than 2021.
Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, Bashir Ahmad Basheer said that during the initial stage, the cherry fetched good rates but during peak season, rates were down.
“Low rates were because of incessant rains and transportation issues at the airport,” he said, adding that the government has promised of giving a subsidy on airfare to cherry by introducing the Parvaz scheme but that wasn’t implemented due to unknown reasons.
He also said that around 90 percent of cherries are traditional but they have fetched low rates. The varieties which are being grown include Makhmali, Siyah, Awal Number, Italy, Jadi, Holand, Double, Mishry, Splendor and Steela, he said.
According to the official data, Kashmir produces over 15 lakh metric tonnes of cherry, making it the highest cherry-producing ‘state’ in the country. Jammu and Kashmir has a total of 2317 hectares of land under cherry cultivation. Shopian, Ganderbal and Srinagar areas are the chief producers of cherry.