Bumper crop raises hopes of more profit among cherry orchardists in Shopian

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Around 85 metric tonnes of cherry expected to fetch Rs 90 crores

SHOPIAN: A bumper cherry crop and dry weather has raised hopes of more gains to Shopian orchardists. Cherry growing orchardists are seen busy harvesting despite fasting and bearing intense heat.
In 2017, orchardists faced heavy losses despite a bumper crop because the inclement weather and heavy rains didn’t allow people to harvest the crop.
An orchardist from Pinjora area said that almost 30 percent of their crop left on trees decomposed due to frequent rains in the harvesting season.
Cherries from Shopian that were famous throughout India because of their taste and crunch during 2005 to 2010 saw a decline because of low rates and then people axed their orchards! After 2010, the cherries again saw a good market and people started planting more trees in their orchards. “This time, the reason was different because new varieties were introduced. Some new varieties have good quality and are resistant to rains and they fetch more crops than traditional varieties and subsequently new varieties get higher rates in markets outside Kashmir,” Gulzar Ahmad Khan, an expert from horticulture department said.
The introduction of new varieties and rise in rates revived the fruit sector with regard to cherry in this south Kashmir district. At Arhama Mandi of Shopian almost 70 traders were buying the cherry.
The new varieties which according to experts were introduced are: Italy, Stella, Jadi, Makhmali and Bulgaria. Javid Ahmad Lone an orchardist from Losedenow area said that last year he sold one kilogram box of Bulgaria cherry for Rs 375 at Delhi market. Similarly, varieties like Jaddi, Italy and Stella get more than Rs 150 in markets outside Kashmir which according to orchardists are considered good rates.
In Shopian, not all orchards have cherry trees because according to experts the soil in those areas is not suitable for the better survival of cherry trees and at several places people are not aware of what the fruit could fetch while others believe it is expensive to maintain cherry orchard and is a difficult task.
An official from horticulture department told Kashmir Reader that this year Shopian has approximately 85 metric tonnes of cherry. Another expert said that this quantity of cherry may fetch orchardists almost 90 corers of rupees.
Bilal Ahmad, a villager from Pargochi said that each year he buys cherry from different orchardists and earns livelihood from it. “Since past seven years, I used to buy cherry from people and thank God, it draws me handsome gains. I have no land of my own but I used to earn livelihood through this business,” Bilal said.
According to the growers, the cherry fruit has less span of life so they pick the cherries from trees during day and pack the same in evening. “When cherry get cut from the branches, we have to pack them early and sell it to the buyers because it is less resistant to heat. We often spend whole night for packing,” Javid Ahmad Dar another grower said.
The villages where different varieties are grown include, Losedenow, Kunsoo, Malikgund, Baskushan, Nowpora, Kittpora, Nagbal, Saidpora, Pargochi, Nagbal and Thairen. Villagers said that cherries exported by traders to other countries are being flown by airplanes from Srinagar airport to Mumbai and Bangalore and from there they send the fruit to other countries.

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