Zahid, Srinagar: The cherry, a red and delicate fruit produced mostly in Kashmir, has brought delight this year to valley growers who say this time’s good weather has heightened their expectations, leading them to hope for excellent revenue generation from what promises to be a superb harvest.
Production of this monopoly crop – Kashmir grows 70 percent of the total cherry yield produced in India – has gone through a heavy loss during the last two years. Growers say that “2016 and 2017 were the “worst years”.
Last year’s cherry revenue may have satisfied the farmers a bit but this year it is coming as a jackpot, growers say.
Ishfaq Ahmed Magray, a fruit grower from North Kashmir’s Tangmarg area which holds the distinction of being the valley’s highest cherry producer, says, “It is horrible! We witnessed more than 50 percent loss last year. But this year, nature has blessed us.”
“Last year, when the blossom was at its peak, frequent rainfall, hailstorms and snowfall washed away all our blossoms, and we were left with nothing,” said Magray.
Kashmir is one among the cherry producing states apart from Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Most of its cherry crop is exported to New Delhi, which accounts for 70 percent of the total production from Kashmir. Mumbai is the second biggest market for Kashmiri cherries.
Prime cherry growing places in Kashmir are Ganderbal, Zabarwan hills in Srinagar, South Kashmir’s Shopian and North Kashmir’s Tangmarg, Baramulla and Bandipora.
“In some cherry producing areas like Ganderbal, Tangmarg and Shopian, the production is expected to witness a boom due to the good weather,” says Ali Mohammad Ganai, a grower from Ganderbal.
Ganai says that while prices this year are good, production has also been satisfactory. Last year, one kilogram of cherries was sold at Rs 70 to Rs 80 but this year it has reached Rs150 to Rs160 per kg, Ganie says.
The Kashmir cherry is famous for its delicious varieties, which include Double Gilas, Gilas Makhmali and Gilas Mishri. According to Ganai, the costliest variety is Gilas Mishri, which is considered the king of all the varieties available here. Gilas Mishri used to generate 60 percent of revenue in overall producztion. Promising hybrids in this group are Lapins, Summit, Sue, Sam, Sunburst and Stella.