June 11, 2018
Low prices and bumper crop force growers to destroy much of the produce
This year Kashmir has seen a super bumper cherry crop this year. Alas! the growers are distressed alot due to low demand and fall in the prices of ‘Double Gilass’ variety.
Double Gilass or Bigarreau Napoleon, the main cherry variety grown in Kashmir is facing the problem of over production, which has resulted in the decline of prices by as much as upto 60 percent, then compared to the last year.
The Double variety which was fetching growers Rs. 100 per kilogram last year, is getting them only Rs.30 – Rs.60 per kg. Besides selling as a fruit in the market within the valley and outside, this cherry is mostly used by food processing industry as canned cherry. The bounty of nature has dismayed cherry growers and fruit traders who are lamenting huge losses due to bumper growth but low quality crop which they blame on unfavorable weather conditions.
Bashir Ahmad Basheer, President, New Kashmir Fruit Association said, “there is huge surplus of the Double Gilass, which contains a lot of small sized produce that is unable to find any takers in the canning industry. At present there are almost 2 lakh surplus boxes lying at the Parimpora Fruit Mandi are finding no takers. Yesterday a huge quantity of cherry was destroyed here, as it was not sellable. Even the good quality double cherry is not fetching the desired amount from the canners. The canning industry is misusing the bumper crop by adopting monopolistic practices which is affecting the market price. They are only 10-15 canning players and growers are thousands in number. It is easy for the canners to form a union.’
Basheer said the government should introduce some kind of a market intervention scheme which can bail out the cherry farmers. “Let them buy and then destroy the small sized cherry like the way government did in Himachal Pradesh a few years back,” Basheer said.
He also advised the growers to destroy the small sized cherry in their orchards instead of sending it to mandis. “This crop is harvested in ending May to June but it has disappointed growers and traders both. It’s packaging itself costs Rs.10 – Rs. 20 so there is a huge loss. Let us hope the Mishri variety, which comes to mandis after Double fetches good prices,” Basheer said.
Denying the allegation of carteling, President of Kashmir Food Processors Association, Zain-ul-Abideen said that apart from being very small size some of the Kashmiri Double cherry this year is over-ripened due to heat this year which has reduced the quality.
“We are worried that Kashmir cherry may face the fate of almond and walnut,” Abideen said. “Cherry imported from China and Turkey which is quite big in size may wipe out the market of Kashmir cherry in India soon.”