Kashmiri Apples Rot In Orchards

Chander Sharma

Nothing can be more farcical than destroying the farmers’ standing crop. This is what has happened in locked down Kashmir valley. Its apple season in the Kashmir valley but because of continuous clampdown, the crop has been rotting in orchards.

Despite harvest time, the markets, usually bustling with apple growers, cartons and trucks at this time of year, are empty. After August 5, the day article 370 was abrogated. all transport links of the state from outside world have been cut. As such, apple growers haven’t plucked the crops and unpicked apples are rotting on trees.

Apples, tourism and handicrafts are the lifeline of Kashmir’s economy and sustain more than 90 percent of the sate population. Over 3.5 million people, around half the population of the state are fed by apple cultivation alone.

Unfortunately for Kashmir people the saffron party move to scrap special status came at a time (August 5) just when the harvesting was on its peak. The unabated clampdown has prevented apple growers from getting their produce to the market Adding to their troubles were the threats of stopping harvesting from terrorist groups. That’s the tragedy of Kashmiris. They are stuck from both sides. Its like state terrorism vs across the border terrorism.

Tourism industry in Kashmir has lost momentum in recent years. It started with devastating floods in 2014, followed by a continuing unrest since 2016. However, the number of tourists coming to the state increased between April and July this year, according to govt data.But it drop off in August. Only 10,130 tourists came last month, compared with nearly 150,000 in July and more than 160,000 in June this year.

With apple crop rotting and tourism season dropping to a cliff, it will be difficult for Kashmiris to feed themselves in coming winter season.

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