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Bittersweet Harvest | Cherry picking season in full swing, but prices sour the joy

12:39 AM Jun 03, 2024 IST | Irfan Raina
bittersweet harvest   cherry picking season in full swing  but prices sour the joy
Mubashir Khan/ GK

Ganderbal, June 2: Cherry picking has begun in parts of Ganderbal district, which is among the largest producers of cherries.


Cherries hold a crucial position in Kashmir’s horticulture sector, especially after the strawberry harvest.


The farmers in Ganderbal are expecting to reap a bumper crop this year.


The harvesting season will peak in the next two weeks and continue up to mid-June.


While the Makhmali and Double varieties of the fruit are harvested from the second week of May, the Mishri, one of the most sought-after varieties will be ready for harvesting in the first week of June.


Nearly a dozen villages including Lar, Waliwar, Chuntwaliwar, Gutlibagh, Zazna, and other areas of the Ganderbal district are rich producers of different varieties of cherries.


While cherry harvesting is slowly picking pace, the low market prices have brought disappointment to the farmers.


“Right now, 1 kg of Italy variety is sold at Rs 80 to 100 in Fruit Mandi here,” said a farmer Ghulam Hassan of Lar.

He said that they were looking forward to good market rates. Over the past few years, the farmers cultivating horticulture crops suffered losses due to the protracted COVID-19 lockdown and inclement weather conditions.

However, this year the farmers are expecting to reap dividends.

“Even as Kashmir has witnessed a bumper cherry crop this year, the growers are a distressed lot due to low demand and fall in the prices of the cherry,” a grower Jahanzeb Alam said.

He said that there were four types of cherries in Kashmir - Awwal Number, Double, Mishri, and Makhmali.

Mishri and Makhmali are exported to other states.

Cherries are extremely perishable with a very brief shelf-life. Cherry is the first domestic fruit to enter the market.

Ganderbal district with approximately 1200 hectares of land under it is considered to be the hub of the cherry crop as the district produces approximately 60 percent of the total production of this delicious fruit in Kashmir.

Around 5000 growers are associated with cherry cultivation.  Areas where the cherry is grown in Ganderbal district and was in its bloom include Chunt Waliwar, Gulabpora, Lar, Gutlibagh, Wakura, Dab, Batwina, and some areas of Kangan.