Mukhtar Ahmad Sheikh, a plum producer from Khaipora Khansahib Budgam, is facing difficulties and losses due to the COVID-19 lockdown like many hundreds of farmers in Kashmir.
District Budgam in central Kashmir is one of the largest producers of plum. It has about 953 hectares of land under plum cultivation producing around 1616 metric tonnes in 2012. According to the farmers, this year due to the lockdown they suffered heavy losses, as they couldn’t procure pesticides and are now facing a shortage of transport to send the crop to different markets of India.
during this lockdown, we couldn’t buy pesticides in time and failed to spray our crop resulting in heavy losses
According to a report in Kashmir Life, Since 2007, the growth and production of plum have simultaneously increased. According to the data provided by the Department of Horticulture, the total production of plum has gone up from 7810 metric tonnes in 2007 to 8102 metric tonnes in 2012. The area under plum cultivation has also increased from 3841 hectares to 4341 hectares of land respectively in the same period.
We used to take the plum crop to different Indian markets ourselves, but these times are overwhelming for us, we are forced to pay extra costs to pluck, pack, and then store. Transporters take a risk due to the scare created by the lockdown and charge extra money
According to an estimate by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Valley’s economy suffered a loss of more than Rs 18000 crore during post Article 370 lockdown. Horticulture, a Rs 6500 crore industry, that employs around three million people has suffered the heaviest loss. Pertinently, 70% of the #economy is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry.