Despite a bumper strawberry crop in Kashmir this year, farmers continue to register huge losses due to ongoing pandemic and lockdown as there are less takers for the produce due to lockdown in the wake of pandemic.
Farmers from different areas associated with strawberries told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), that that high produce has no value when restrictions are there as no market is available to sell the produce.
“We have around 20 percent extra produce this time but due to lockdown there are huge losses like last year,” a group of visibly upset farmers said.
Muhammad Ashraf, a strawberry grower from Srinagar said that tourists were the main customers of the strawberry produce but due to lockdown last year and this year’s season, “our produce is set to rot.”
He said they were earning livelihood by selling strawberries for decades but in the last two years they have faced losses as there are no markets, rates are down and there has been no intervention from the authorities.
“Strawberry fruit doesn’t last long as it has a very short shelf life so the government should have intervened and helped growers in selling their produce or provide them a cold storage chain option,” said Gulzar Ahmed, another farmer. “With no market we have been throwing away and distributing our produce among relatives and other people.”
Notably, strawberries have emerged as an important cash crop in Kashmir and the livelihood of hundreds of people is dependent on this fruit. Kashmir produces around 2,500 metric tons of strawberries every year. (KNO)