Govt Indifferent Towards Asia’s Second Largest Fruit Mandi

SHARE:

How Significant Is Bla’ Traders Federation
Forgiving!
Private Schools: Creating Class Within Class

“More than two million people are dependent on this mandi (directly or indirectly) but government has never bothered to improve facilities here,’’ said Abdul Khaliq, a fruit grower from Sopore. “From last 12 years I am a regular visitor to this mandi I saw some development in shape of a new mosque, a new branch of J&K bank. But still no major development has taken place here.”

Imtiyaz Wani

As the autumn sets in, trucks are being loaded with different varieties of fruits in Valley’s largest fruit-market located on the outskirts of Sopore town that is also known as Apple town as this township is surrounded by big and small apple orchards.

Image: Imtiyaz Wani

At the mandi for next four to five months there will be hustle and bustle with workers, young and old busy loading the cardboard and wooden boxes on big trucks and trailers towards the various locations outside the state. Even some trucks are being loaded for far off destinations like Bangladesh. 

55 kilometers from city, Sopore mandi is Valley’s largest and Asia’s second biggest, fruit market and generates employment to thousands of people related to Horticulture trade. This apple market is also considered as the backbone of Kashmir’s economy as majority of small fruit growers sell their produce to the commission agents on the cash payment.

As per the official figures around 7,000 workers every day are employed in the mandi and turnover of Rs over Rs six thousand crores annually increases with every passing year.

The mandi was established by a fruit merchant Mohammad Sultan in 1988 on 372 kanals of land and everyday four to five thousand farmers and growers visit this place. Here apple varities like, American, Delicious , Gilder, Maharaji, Kasri, Pear, Apricots, peach, cherry, loquats , almonds,  wall nuts are being traded by the growers who come to this place from different parts of the Valley.

President Fruit Mandi said that this place is the nerve centre for apple industry. “This mandi helps the small time growers to sell their produce at their door steps on the cash payment. Every day produce worth crores are being exported from this place,’’ he said adding that the mandi fetches more than 1500 crore annually.

“Being Asia’s second fruit Mandi it should have been equipped with all facilities. Unfortunately its infrastructure is in the shabbiest form.’’ He blamed the government for not taking any initiative to develop this place. Even we don’t have good place to accommodate growers and truckers during peak season.’’

Mushtaq Ahmad a fruit grower said this mandi has a potential to become one of the best and biggest fruit trade centres of the South Asia. “Unfortunately, no attention has been paid to it. Baramulla district being the highest producer of fruit has no cold-storage that is an important facility that we require here. In absence of cold stores tonnes of apples get wasted ever year.”

“More than two million people are dependent on this mandi (directly or indirectly) but government has never bothered to improve facilities here,’’ said Abdul Khaliq, a fruit grower from Sopore. “From last 12 years I am a regular visitor to this mandi I saw some development in shape of a new mosque, a new branch of J&K bank. But still no major development has taken place here.”

Majority of growers claim that during the peak season when 300 – 500 trucks leave mandi, the frequent jams not only irk growers but hamper every sort of activity in the Sopore town.

“Even we don’t have potable water facility available in the mandi and frequent traffic jams further complicates situation. And in absence of cold storage facility farmers are forced to sell their fruits at cheap rates,’’ said Farooq Ahmad who owns a kiosk at the mandi.

Despite spending hundreds of crores on macdamisation in the valley, the growers complained that from Sopore Degree College to Fruit Mandi the road is full with potholes and ditches.

“Due to bad condition of road fruit loaded on trucks and tractors get damaged and its value becomes less.  The condition of roads is testimony how government is concerned about this mandi and growers.’’

 Many growers have apprehensions that government in order to grab votes is creating satellite fruit mandis at every place that is hampering business in this mandi. “It is unfortunate that Asia’s biggest mandi is in shambles and government is developing other mandies in small towns.’’

Though J&K government recently declared the current year as the year of Apple in which promotional campaigns will be launched to promote fruit industry and apple. J&K’s Horticulture Minister, Bashaarat Bukhari said that this year will be the game changer for the apple and its products in the Valley.  Growers, however, complained that instead of spending money on different campaigns meant for siphoning money, the government should try to develop infrastructure so that growers of the Valley could compete with their counterparts.

“Unfortunately all the promises made to the growers and those associated with the trade have not been fulfilled. We are not able to compete with growers of Himachal Pradesh, how come our growers will be able to compete with foreign growers and commission agents,’’ said Ghulam Rasool Bhat former president All Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Association.

COMMENTS

Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better