IOK apple growers say losses in millions of dollars.


ISLAMABAD -- Apple growers were expecting a bumper crop this year but now they say losses are in millions of dollars and the business might suffer its worst year, in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The apple growers call it a 'silent war declared on their stomachs'.

According to reporter, 'That's almost $1,200 worth of produce. It's all a waste now,' said apple farmer Mohammad Shafi, pointing to a heap of rotten apples thrown into a pit in Wuyan, a small village in east of Srinagar.

The worst-hit region is southern Kashmir, where dense apple orchards stretch through hundreds of villages. Shafi's orchard in Wuyan usually produces almost 10,000 boxes of apples per year. He says he's only sold 1,000 boxes this year.

Half of the rest of the harvest had to be thrown out because the apples were bruised from falling off the trees, he said.

Growers like Shafi often rely on loans to pay for labor, fertilizer and other costs. 'A few days ago, a friend came to me asking for the repayment of loans. I wept and begged in front of him as I have no money to give back to him,' Shafi said.

One young apple picker, who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisal from the occupation authorities, said he preferred to be hungry rather than trapped in an army camp.

Army has denied arrests and torture. But rumors of such tactics have alarmed those who usually would be working in the...

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