25% of Kashmir apple industry is female, clampdown hurts business
The apple industry in Jammu and Kashmir is under threat of massive financial and produce loss due to the clampdown in communication and to an extent transport. This is the season when the fruit is plucked and prepared for export but due to the current state of curfew in the state people are not getting out much worried about their life and security. Kashmir is the apple producer for the country and the industry promises to take a hit this year. 25% of this industry is female.
These rural women who work in the apple orchards participate in a wide range of activities by slogging alongside men in the orchards as well as taking care of the home and children, thereby performing a dual role that of a homemaker and of a partner in the apple production
Speaking to SheThePeople, Prof GM Bhat, an expert on the industry pointed out that women are mostly engaged in the rural farms in the agricultural part of the apple industry. He was concerned that the produce this year would go waste as the state of J&K grapples with changes after Article 370 was abrogated. The impact was already apparent. The Hindu reported that “the movement of fruit trucks to the Valley has reduced from 1,200 to just 120 a day.”
The apple industry – both in rural and urban Kashmir – is a mainstay in the state.
- 7 lakh plus families are dependent on apple industry in direct and indirect ways
- Women make 25% of the total workforce in the Kashmir apple industry
- Nearly all the apple picking is done by women only
- 71% of India’s apple production comes from Kashmir
Prof Bhat shares in a 2014 report on Women participation in Apple Cultivation in Rural Kashmir that while overall the industry and horticulture of apples is tilted in favour of men, women are central to the efforts in farms. The report also notes, “one more activity in apple cultivation is transportation of packaged boxes from the place of cultivation to the place of loading or marketing and women are having a good share. 68.5% women in Shopian, 62% in Kupwara and 59% in Budgam” are engaged in hyperlocal or local transportation.
Prof Bhat also talks about the overall horticulture in Kashmir where women perform various works for their livelihood. Horticulture is considered as the biggest unorganized sector where large number of rural women takes part actively. “These rural women who work in the apple orchards participate in a wide range of activities by slogging alongside men in the orchards as well as taking care of the home and children, thereby performing a dual role that of a homemaker and of a partner in the apple production.” The above mentioned report also noted 70 percent of the total population of the state is dependent on horticulture as the source of revenue. Rice, maize and wheat are the major crops of the locale. The state is known for its mono-cropped and rain-fed economy with 40 percent area in the Jammu division and 60 percent in Kashmir.