Kashmir’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department issued advisories, asking farmers in North Kashmir not to sow water-intensive paddy this season due to a water scarcity.Instead, the advisory urges them to sow pulses and other cash crops, which use less water.

Kashmir Department of Agriculture Director, Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, informed  ” Water level is very low this year due to dry winter in Kashmir, but this is the initial stage of Paddy farming in Kashmir valley. This is a season of paddy nursery on Kashmir and till full paddy session comes we have expected rains that will fulfill the water shortage and suggest farmers not to panic.”
Some farmers now fear a drought as they majorly depend on the rainwater collecting in their paddy fields for the planting process. To irrigate the crop later, they use water from the stream.
Farmers also believe that the paddy fields in Kashmir valley are capable to produce only rice and not any other cash crops.

In Kashmir, rice is the staple food. Paddy is cultivated in around 1.41 lakh hectares of land. Nearly 88 lakh quintals of rice are produced every year, and the industry is worth Rs 400-500 crore.

Farmers can grow maize, cereal, and other short-duration crops. Instead of one, they can grow more than two crops.

Around eight to ten varieties of rice are grown in the Valley. These varieties are considered among the best in the world due to the use of surface water (instead of groundwater), and the minimum use of fertilizers. The varieties include K332, Jhelum, Shalimar Rice 1, Shalimar Rice 2, Shalimar Rice 3, Mushk Budji, Kamad and Zag or Red Rice.

No, mustard requires less water. However, the production will be hit due to the prolonged dry spell. There are reports that farmers are turning their paddy fields into orchards or housing colonies. In 2002, around 1.70 lakh hectares of land was used for cultivating paddy. The area fell to 1.58 lakh hectares in 2012, and currently, 1.41 lakh hectares is under paddy cultivation. In the last 16 years, the Valley has lost around 29,000 hectares of land.

A long dry spell sent the mercury soaring in Jammu and Kashmirs summer capital of Srinagar, which recorded its hottest-ever March this year, and raised the spectre of drought-like conditions.

Authorities have advised farmers in many areas not to cultivate paddy - a water-intensive crop - and the agricultural department is preparing a contingency plan to deal with any eventuality.

"The Kashmir Valley has been witnessing above-normal maximum temperatures. Especially in the month of March, the day temperatures were eight to 11 notches above the normal," an official of the Meteorological Department informed the sources.

"Though there has been some relief in this month, the maximum temperature is still above the normal for this part of the year.?

He said the valley recorded the hottest ever month of March this year and the maximum temperature broke the nearly five decade-old record.

As per the records available, On the last day of March this year, Srinagar recorded a maximum of 28.3 degrees Celsius, which was 10.7 degrees above the normal. It was the all time high recorded by the capital city in its recorded history.The last record ? the highest day temperature in Srinagar in the month of March - was 27.3 degrees Celsius on 27 March 1971,?

 

Chander Mohan

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi



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