Despite receiving clearance from the Food Safety Department, watermelon sales continue to be low in Kashmir this year.

Several vendors, as per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), said that while sales have slightly improved after the clearance, they still remain significantly lower compared to last year.

“This decline is due to the claims made by a few doctors regarding the artificial ripening of watermelons, and also the adverse weather conditions,” he said.

Mohammad Ramzan, a vendor, said even his own family members refrained from consuming watermelon after reports emerged about artificial ripening.

Despite the clearance from the food safety department, reluctance among consumers continues, especially during Ramadan when watermelon consumption is traditionally high.

Other fruit vendors echoed similar sentiments, saying that the claims of artificial ripening had a detrimental impact on watermelon sales.

Bashir Ahmad Bashir, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, said that despite the department’s clearance, sales are still down by approximately 40 percent.

The decline in sales was witnessed when Dr Wajahat, a clinical oncologist, cautioned against consuming artificially ripened watermelons due to potential health risks, including cancer. His social media post on March 08 went viral and garnered support from fellow doctors.

Subsequently, the food safety department collected hundreds of samples from various districts for testing and concluded that nothing adverse was found and that watermelons are safe for consumption.

However, the lingering effects of the initial claims made by doctors continue to impact consumers, which led to the low sales of watermelons in Kashmir.