By Nayeema Akhtar
Before I explain my view point about the title of this column, let me recall here a common English phrase,” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Which means that if we take this delicious fruit on daily basis we need less to see a doctor. Apple is considered a good and healthy fruit for our health. It has huge benefits and can be considered the backbone of our trade and commerce here in Kashmir. But unfortunately, it is now continuously falling prey to our selfishness and carelessness.
Have you ever thought why is this fruit becoming less valuable to consumers even if it should not be? Why in our society, where we are ourselves the growers of this fruit values it less than the imported fruits? Why we prefer other fruits over the Apple?
Some years back, we used to listen the names of different kinds of varieties of Apples in Kashmir e.g, Amber, Shahan shah, Anchoun, Maharaji, kher chount, Golden, Bumb chount and my favourite Trale. Such unique and delicious apples were some of the well known varieties of Kashmiri apples that were grown all around in our valley. No doubt , the quantity was not so good but quality was super. Now-a-days, we can hardly see any of these varieties. Our society has totally changed the variety that was well known quality. Today we grow different types of imported apples in our fields but we don’t find such type of taste that we were having in our native quality. Can we not grow these imported varieties without compromising our native quality? If we will vanish our own variety, after some decades how can our future generation will be able to understand these varieties without even seen them once.
Another fact that I want to share is that today we are growing these imported or we can say hybrid apples and there is no doubt we are getting a huge quantity but unfortunately we are lacking in quality. We are not getting a satisfactory quality in such mass production.
Does that mean, our growers now-a-days do not bother about quality? Why our growers want to vanish these varieties which were famous all over the country? Another thing that we notice today is that huge amount of inorganic matter is used in our horticulture sector in order to get a large quantity of produce. This heavy usage of inorganic matter is due to non-presence of manure in our homes. We have become so much sophisticated that we don’t even felt the need of taming animals.
Taming animals was once considered a good income source at our homes. With the heavy usage of pesticides, fertilizers and weedicides, we are not only degrading the quality of our soil but also the quality of our fruits. When the quality of our land has reduced, how can we expect the good quality of produce. I will not hesitate to mention here that people have become so much selfish that they don’t bother to go any extent for the sake of some pennies. They only have one objective in mind that is to earn as much as possible by hook or by cook. In addition, we have converted agriculture land into horticulture land. Hardly some portion of agriculture land is seen at some places in our valley. Is the reason of this conversion a large earning or does the horticulture land gives more produce than the agriculture land? If horticulture land gives good economic return, then why these fruit growers say they did not get enough returns. I have personally seen many fruit growers or I can say the people who are engaged in fruit business are in huge debts. Why they feel the need of taking loans or sometimes mortgaging their lands in-order to pay off their debts. Our fruit growers sometimes sold their ancestral property to pay off the losses they have incurred.
When these horticulture fields are in full bloom, most of the people start to think that this year they will get a good income return. some of the people who remain engaged in this sector purchase some orchid land every season. This is because they are hoping that they will be benefitted at the time of harvest. Some people are so hopeful that they start to think if they get the good return, they will do this or that, they just hope that getting a good return will subside their many economic issues. But sometimes the climatic conditions do not favour them and sometimes our market conditions do not support them. As a result, they incur heavy burden of losses.
Finally, I want to conclude my write up with a view point that we should review our senses of approach towards our native fruit industry. The need of the hour is to consume our fruits by our own so that any undue loss can be converted into a mere gain.
Our native fruit industry can be saved only by our own hands rather than expecting it to save from the hands of others. As it is commonly said that, “God helps those who help themselves.”
The writer is a teacher by profession and can be mailed at email@example.com