SRINAGAR: Fruit growers and buyers in Kashmir have raised an alarm over the dwindling demand for apples, resulting in substantial losses. They have highlighted a sharp decline in apple prices compared to those recorded during the peak season in October-November 2023.

A Girana (Fallen) Apple mandi at work in a south Kashmir village in September 2023. Fallen apple considered to be C-grade are either sold to apple crushing factories or sold to distant, off track areas where A and B category fruit can not be sold. KL Image: Shuaib Wani

Mohamad Ashraf, a fruit grower from Shopian, said he was offered Rs 1,200 per apple box in November last year but opted to store them in a cold store at Lassipora. However, he now finds himself receiving only around Rs 800 per box, much lower than the expected rates of Rs 1,800-2,000.

Similarly, Shakeel Ahmad, an apple trader, lamented purchasing high-quality apples at Rs 1,000-1,500 per box last November, only to find that the current selling price has dropped to Rs 1,000 per box.

Ahmad said there was anticipation for increased demand in the spring season, which led growers and buyers to store apples in cold storage. However, the expected surge in demand did not materialise, resulting in substantial financial losses.

Azhar Anjum, the manager of a cold store, confirmed the downward trend in apple prices, saying that rates have plummeted by Rs 300-400 per box. Currently, Kulu boxes are being sold for around Rs 1,000 per box, while Delicious apples fetch only about Rs 800, he said.

Despite incurring expenses of around Rs 300-400 per box on cold storage charges, growers and buyers are struggling to achieve even the rates attained during the main season last year.

Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, expressed concern over the losses faced by buyers due to the lack of demand this year compared to the previous year.

“While growers may not bear as much loss, buyers are grappling with substantial financial setbacks, having purchased apples at higher rates during a period of greater demand,” he said.

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