Following relaxation in lockdown rules, the harvesting of the cherry crop is in full swing in the Kashmir valley. As the pandemic has impacted the horticulturists and the marketing of their produce, the government is helping them sell the crop.
Abida Malik, an officer of the Department of Horticulture said, “The pandemic had already delayed the season, and with restrictions on movement, the growers (cherry farmers) were facing difficulties in marketing their produce. The government has, therefore, decided to help the growers market it through them. This will ensure that they get a good price without having to move around.”
The harvesting of the cherry crop began a little late this year due to the COVID-19 threat and the lockdown, but moderate weather did not affect it, and as a result, the quality is much better this year.
Feroz Ali, a cherry grower said, “Compared to last year, our crop is better this year. The lockdown has definitely impacted the overall season, but now that the restrictions have eased…the crop is a nice one, and will give good returns.”
Speaking to ANI about the initiatives taken by the Department of Agriculture, Adil Hussain, another cherry grower said, “The initial variety of cherry is the ‘Avval number’, followed by double, gold cherry, makhmaly and the last and the most demanded, ‘mishry’. The department introduces the new varieties regularly.”
Talking about the boxes of freshly plucked cherries, he said that all of them were being exported to different countries.
Mentioning the loss in the initial days of the season, a labourer, Abdul Qayoom said, “Our livelihood is based on these orchards. There are a few days left in the cherry season, and then we will prepare for apricot, apple, and plum.”
During the harvesting season, many labourers from Rajouri and Poonch districts come to the area to earn some money.
Cherry grows at higher altitude locations like Harwan, Dhara, Nishat, and Tangmarg areas of Kashmir, where intensive cultivation is witnessed.
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