No Fruit of This Labor: the Crisis of Kashmir’s Apple Trade

Photo: Muzamil Bhat.

Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Mir has 300-400 apple trees in his 13-acre orchard, which usually give him 3,600 boxes, each containing 20 kilos of the fruit, every year. “We used to sell a box for 1,000 rupees. But now we are only getting 500-700 rupees for one box,” he says.

Like 65-year-old Mir of Kremshora village in Budgam district, many cultivators in Kashmir are facing a similar, heavy loss of income. And the entire apple industry here is in the midst of a severe crisis since August 5, after the central government abrogated Article 370 and then turned the state into a Union Territory.

The fruit forms a major part of the local economy. Apple is cultivated on 164,742 hectares in Jammu and Kashmir, which together produced over 1.8 million (18,82,319) metric tons of the fruit in 2018-19 (data of the Directorate of Horticulture, Kashmir). The Horticulture Department of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir estimates that horticulture (including apples) is a source of livelihood for 3.3 million people in J&K  – and the industry, Director, Horticulture Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told the media, is worth Rs. 8,000-10,000 crores.

Additionally, labourers from outside the state (now UT) find employment in orchards across the Kashmir Valley. But they left in large numbers in early August amid the political turmoil. Through October, 11 non-locals, most of them truck drivers and labourers, have been killed, allegedly by suspected militants. This has added to the difficulties of transporting Kashmiri apples out to markets in the country.

And it is equally difficult for people and produce to move within and across districts in Kashmir, with public transport, buses and shared taxis at a standstill even now.

Some of the traders who purchase apples from the orchard owners send them directly to markets in Delhi, selling them for Rs. 1,400-1,500 a box. Other traders, who sell through the government, are still waiting for the purchase to proceed. Meanwhile, some of them say that posters being pasted (it is not clear by whom) during the night forbid them from selling their apples to the government.

Muzamil Bhat is a Srinagar-based freelance photojournalist.

This essay first appeared on Rural India Online.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change