India: Strawberry farmers in Kashmir losing out due to lockdown, lack of tourists

Srinagar - Authorities urge farmers to sell their products in the local market to earn some money

By Web report

Published: Thu 17 Jun 2021, 2:46 PM

For strawberry growers in Jammu and Kashmir, this was one of the best seasons in recent years, with a record 20 per cent increase in yields. But sadly, strawberry farmers are facing a major crisis, as there are hardly any tourists because of the Covid crisis and the consequent lockdowns.

Strawberry is one of the first fruit crops of the season and summer is the time when thousands of tourists from other parts of India descend on the valley, which produces about 2,500 metric tonnes of the fruit every year.

Gassu, a small village near Srinagar, which is famous for its strawberries, is witnessing the harvesting season. But farmers bemoan the absence of tourists to buy their fruits.

“They were major buyers, but the Covid crisis has seen a sharp fall in the number tourists, severely impacting us,” Shabir Ahmad, a farmer at the village told an agency. The state administration has allowed the movement of the fruits to the local markets, to enable farmers to sell them and earn some money.

"But strawberries have a very short lifespan of just a couple of days,” said Ahmad.

“We are thankful to the administration for permitting us to move our produce to the mandi (market). We hope to get good returns.”

Aejaz Ahmad Bhat, horticulture director, Kashmir, said farmers were not getting good returns despite their hard work. “We are ready to help them in every way,” he said.

A farmer harvests strawberries in a field in Srinagar. Photo: AFP
A farmer harvests strawberries in a field in Srinagar. Photo: AFP

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