By Mukeet Akmali for Maeeshat
Srinagar:: As dates are must have for faithful to break day long fast during the month of Ramadhan, Kashmir – a Muslim majority state recorded business of Rs 15 crore of the fruit.
Dates from Middle East countries are mostly imported via Mumbai port and from Pakistan side from Muzaffarabad trade felicitation centre situated at a point dividing two parts of Kashmir find their way through these routes to the Valley markets.
Chairman, All Kashmir Fruit dealers cum growers association, Bashir Ahmad Basheer- an organization which records the data of import of various fruits to the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, said that dates worth Rs 15 crore were imported and consumed in Kashmir during the month of Ramadhan.
“Mostly dates imported from Indian markets flooded Kashmir markets, however since the inception of cross Loc trade started in 2008 between two divided parts of Kashmir – one under the administration of India and other by Pakistan, the dates from Pakistan also are being imported,” Basheer said.
“With each passing year, the people in the Valley have become more health conscious and do consume mostly quality dates being imported from Middle East. These dates are priced between Rs 800 to Rs 2000 a kg,” he said adding that the dates are an important import commodity this time.
People prefer to break their fast with dates as they are a rich source of energy, contain vitamins, proteins, potassium and masses of fibre that make them easily digestible.
Ajwa dates, which come from Middle East were hot favorite among during Ramadhan.. They cost around Rs 2000 per kilogram. Next comes Iranian dates which are of several types.
Basheer said that over the years packaging of the dates has vastly improved.
“Earlier consignments of soft dates would come wrapped in date palm leaves, which now have been replaced by a compressed polythene packaging,” he said adding packaged dates are directly imported from Middle East where they are being processed before being dispatched to various places across globe including Kashmir.
Pakistani dates also find their way in the Kashmir markets.
General Secretary, Salamabad – Chakoti traders association, Hilal Turki said till now they have received 13 truckload of dates from Pakistan.
“During month of Ramadhan there is huge demand for dates and since the inception of cross LoC trade, Pakistani dates are being imported to Kashmir and are consumed with craze,” he added.