CHITRAL: Apples’ production in many villages of Upper Chitral has been adversely affected by insufficient rainfall.
The villages like Karimabad, Booni, Brep and Terich are known for producing local species of apples, particularly Chopush, which is famous for its fragrance, taste and delicacy, and the fruit is usually harvested in September.
The fruit traders in Chitral Bazaar said that the sparse rainfall in the last winter as well as summer had greatly affected both the yield and quality of the fruit.
Niaz Ahmed, a fruit merchant, said most of the apple orchards in Booni, Brep and Yarkhun villages he visited were found almost empty of the fruit while the ones bearing fruits were of low quality than the previous years.
He said most of merchants came back without purchasing apple from Brep and Booni due to poor quality of fruit. However, he said he managed to get some jeep-loads of the produce, but the quantity was less than one-fourth of the one he purchased last year.
“The shortage of fruit has caused escalation in its price and the farmers are fixing the prices as they wished thus exploiting the buyers,” he said.
The drop in the production of apple has also left a large number of youth unemployed who used to transport the produce from the orchards to the market to sell the fruit in retail.
The educated youths are usually seen in every nook and corner of the city doing a roaring business of the fruit, but this year hardly any young man is found.
Shafiq Ahmed, who holds a university degree in agriculture, said last year he earned a pretty amount of profit by selling the local species of apple with the help of his two class-fellows as his partners, but this year they could not do the buying and selling of apples due to less yield.
Waqar Ahmed, an agriculture expert employed with an NGO, agreed that insufficient rainfall and snow did affect both the productivity and quality of the fruit as it required a good quantity of water and consistent moisture at different stages of its growth.
He said the hilly areas were suitable for growing apple due to snowfall and extensive rainfall providing the plant with the required amount of water.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2018