Kashmir: Visuals of cherry harvesting as government airlifts fruit from the valley

Kashmir: Visuals of cherry harvesting as government airlifts fruit from the valley

Kashmir: Visuals of cherry strawberry harvesting as government airlifts fruit from the valley goair srinagar 30 stades

Just as cherry growers of Kashmir were rejoicing the easing of lockdown restrictions, the government has added to their joy by announcing airlifting of cherries this year. This will be a boost to farmers as their crop will not rot like last year when Coronavirus lockdown had led to the closure of all trade routes to and from the valley.

The Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with carrier GoAir for the transportation of perishable horticulture produce to destinations across the country. 

“We are happy that the government has started airlifting our produce to Delhi and Mumbai. We will not lose our crop this time,” says Ali Muhammad, a cherry grower from Srinagar.

In 2020, with no transportation and fruit mandis across the country being shut, the fruit growers found themselves at the mercy of fruit dealers and were forced to accept whatever price they received. “I am happy we will earn better this year,” Muhammad adds.

Also Read: COVID-19 impact: Fruit growers stare at losses as strawberries, cherries & apples rot in Kashmir

Both cherry and strawberries are grown in Kashmir’s Srinagar district. The six main varieties of cherry are Avval, Italy, Mishry, Makhmaly, Double and Hybrid. 

Kashmir produces 12,000-13,000 metric tonnes of cherries every year, with the season lasting eight weeks from May to July.

So the airlifting facility has given a boost to growers.

Traditionally, the main buyers of Kashmir’s fruits are dealers from Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Almost 90 percent of the fruits are sold outside the valley while people in Kashmir prefer to consume watermelons, muskmelons and mangoes from other states.

Also Read: Kashmir’s farmers get peanuts for walnuts as lockdown hurts rates

However, things have been tough for strawberry growers this year just as they were in 2020. While strawberry growers witnessed bumper produce, about 20 percent above average, there was no demand in the market due to lockdown as markets and local mandis were partially closed during the harvest late last month and in early June.

“The shelf life of strawberries is just two days. I could not find any buyers as mandis were closed at that time,” says Javeed Ahmad, a strawberry grower.

“The local mandi was open for only a few hours. The produce was rotten before it reached the market,” he says, adding that the government should consider compensating the farmers for the losses. Wasim Nabi has captured harvesting of cherries and strawberries in pictures and video here:

Also Read: At the mercy of nature, middlemen and politics, Kashmir’s saffron growers plunge into losses

Strawberry harvest season lasts just a few days in Kashmir. Pic Wasim Nabi
Strawberry harvest season lasts just a few days in Kashmir. Pic Wasim Nabi
Strawberry produce this year was 20 percent more than last year. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Strawberry produce this year was 20 percent more than last year. Pic: Wasim Nabi

Also See: Kashmir in pictures after abrogation of Article 370 & 35A

But the fruit could not saved due to the lockdown during the harvest time. Pic: Wasim Nabi
But the fruit could not saved due to the lockdown during the harvest time. Pic: Wasim Nabi
By the time lockdown restrictions were relaxed, strawberries had started rotting. Pic: Wasim Nabi
By the time lockdown restrictions were relaxed, strawberries had started rotting. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Cherry season lasts 8 weeks in Kashmir from May till July. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Cherry season lasts 8 weeks in Kashmir from May till July. Pic: Wasim Nabi

Also Read: Why is Kashmir’s 800-year-old apple economy in shambles?

Cherry, a stoned fruit, has a better shelf life than strawberry. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Cherry, a stoned fruit, has a better shelf life than strawberry. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Six varieties of cherry are grown in Kashmir. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Six varieties of cherry are grown in Kashmir. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Cherries are packaged on the farms. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Cherries are packaged on the farms. Pic: Wasim Nabi
This year, the boxes will be airlifted by GoAir and reach mandis across the country. Pic: Wasim Nabi
This year, the boxes will be airlifted by GoAir and reach mandis across the country. Pic: Wasim Nabi

(Wasim Nabi is a Srinagar-based freelance multimedia journalist; Musaib Mehraj is a freelance journalist from Kashmir).

Also see: Repora: Visuals from Kashmir’s grape village

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