Pulwama, Sep 19 : Cold storage units, that have come in handy for Kashmiri apple growers in selling their produce at their will, have been booked in advance this year and there is no space available to accommodate more growers.
The growers from various areas of Kashmir told that there is a good demand for apples in different markets that are kept in cold storage units and that they have already booked space in advance in cold storage units so as to fetch good rates after March next year.
This year’s production is less as compared to the last few years, they said, adding, “Even the demand is good at present, and it becomes more in spring months. So, more and growers prefer to keep their part of produce in cold storage units,” a grower from south Kashmir’s Shopian district said.
Mehraj Ahmad, manager at one of the cold storage units at SIDCO Lassipora, said that 99 percent of their store is already full and there is hardly any space free so as to accommodate the fruits of more growers.
Aabid Hussain, a senior employee at another store, said, “Our unit has a capacity of 3 lakh apple boxes among which around 90 percent of booking was done in March only.”
He said the cold storage units have “revolutionised” the horticulture sector as these give a choice to the growers to sell their produce “as per their will”.
“Cold storage units provide employment to hundreds of people. Labourers also get jobs as now the work of packing apples remains round the year,” Hussain added.
There are around 50 cold storage units in Kashmir and most of them are in SIDCO Lassipora.
Azhar Anjum, another manager, said cold storage units have come in handy for Kashmiri apple growers as they have given them freedom to sell their produce as per their will.
Our apples are the most delicious in the world but we are still using traditional ways of packing and grading due to which customers prefer apples from other countries that are packed smartly, he said.
“Though the number of cold storage units is still very small and can store just a little produce, the main thing growers need to do is to focus on smart packing and grading, Anjuma added.
Kashmir on average produces over 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples every year, a figure that in some years touches 25 lakh metric tonnes.
The 2017 economic survey in J&K said that half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry and over 3.5 lakh hectares are under apple cultivation—(KNO)