10 Dec 2023

J&K: What challenges are posing a threat to famous apples of Kashmir? What is causing worry among valley's apple growers?

This year, Kashmiri apple farmers are expressing concern over the quality of their apples, as they are deemed below standard quality, potentially impacting market prices. The region, renowned in India for its diverse apple varieties, faces challenges such as mold, climate change, and economic issues, posing a threat to its once-thriving apple industry. Apple cultivation in India is dominated by Kashmir, which produces 78 per cent of India’s total annual output of around 25-26 lakh metric tonnes (MT).

Apples are categorized into 3 grades

Apples are categorized into A, B, and C grades based on size, color, and quality, with A being the premium category. Unfortunately, this year, around 40% of the apple production is classified as C-grade, indicating lower quality. Ghulam Nabi Mir, an apple orchardist from Pulwama, notes the prevalence of C-grade apples.

Unpredictable weather pattern a big challenge

The Horticulture Department of Jammu and Kashmir reveals that apple, walnut, and almond cultivation directly and indirectly employs approximately 23 lakh people in the area. Despite contributing significantly to the region's economy, the apple industry is facing challenges exacerbated by unpredictable weather patterns.

Untimely rain leads to mold growth

Untimely rain between April and May leads to mold growth, and attempts to control it through pesticide spraying are thwarted by rain washing away the chemicals. Dr. Tariq Rasool, a senior scientist at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences, emphasizes the adverse effects of excessive rainfall on apple size, quality, and quantity.

Prolonged drought affected apple taste

Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, a farmer from Chadoora in Budgam district, recounts unprecedented weather uncertainties, including hail in May damaging crops and a prolonged drought affecting apple taste in August and September.

Increase in adverse weather events

Data from the Meteorological Department of Jammu and Kashmir indicates an increase in adverse weather events over the last seven years, further impacting the apple industry. 

Transportation challenges

Transportation challenges arise with excessive rainfall, and during winter, the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu Highway due to landslides isolates the valley, hindering the movement of apple-laden trucks.

Influx of Iranian apples into Indian market

Vijay Taira, vice president of the Kashmir Apple Merchants Association in the Azadpur fruit market in Delhi, notes the influx of Iranian apples into the Indian market, adversely affecting Kashmir's market share and prices.


20% import duty on American apples waived

Apple farmers attribute the decline in prices, which dropped from Rs 1,000-1,300 to Rs 800 per box in just two weeks, to the Indian government's decision to waive a 20% import duty on American apples. Ahmed Bashir, president of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union, laments the repercussions for local farmers facing these challenges in the market.

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