With summer arriving early in the Kashmir Valley, the local markets are filled with fresh harvest of cherries. Having hit by two years of Covid-related lockdowns, the farmers in the Valley are pinning their hopes on this year’s harvest, which has come earlier due to dry and hot weather conditions.
Fruit grower Mohammad Samad, a resident of Ganderbal in central Kashmir, said he started harvesting the fruit in the last week of April due to hot weather.
Farmers usually start harvesting the crop in mid-May. Samad said due to the weather the fruit became ready to harvest early. “The growers could not have waited for the normal time (May 15) for starting the harvest as cherry has low-shelf life,” he added.
Besides Ganderbal, other parts of Kashmir such as Baramulla, Srinagar, Shopian and Tangmarg produce cherry. Kashmir annually produces 13,000-15,000 metric tons of cherry on 3,000 hectares. Mohammad Zubair, another fruit-grower in Ganderbal, said the farmers had incurred heavy losses in the last two years as all the markets within and outside Kashmir were closed.
Kashmir Fruit Growers Dealers Union chairman Bashir Ahmad Bashir said Kashmir cherries have demand in both local and outside J&K markets. “We send it by air to Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. It is also being transported in trucks to Delhi and Punjab.”
Bashir said growers across the Valley are busy harvesting the crop and want to complete the process as early as possible. He, however, cautioned that in case there is rainfall or hailstorm, the crop would be damaged. The Mishri variety of cherry, which is considered one of the best varieties having extremely good health benefits, was exported to Dubai last year.