1. Agriculture World

Kashmir's Apple Growers Distressed as Early Snow Damages Crops

Ayushi Raina
Ayushi Raina
Man plucking apples from tree

As Aamir Hussain walked towards his orchard on a snowy morning in south Kashmir, red, green, and yellow apples, some ripe and others unripe, lay spread across acres of land.

After a few minutes of standing there and looking about, he sat down, shaking his head in astonishment. He wasn’t able to understand what has happened and how heavy and unseasonal snow had damaged his orchard's trees and crops.

He realized that 10 of the 70 trees, some of which were as old as 30 years, had split beneath the weight of the snow, and that 15 other branches had either fallen off or were hanging by the thick skin of the trunk and limbs.

Early snows in the Valley are never pleasant, and farmers are constantly taken off guard, even if the weathermen warn them ahead of time.

Farmers are terrified by the unexpected snowfall, especially during apple picking season. Snow always batters Kashmiri apple farmers before December, regardless of where the fields are located or what variety they are harvesting.

Hussain had turned pale while assessing his losses on his two-kanal farm. He claims that 40 percent of his apple harvest has gone to waste, despite the fact that he has been picking apples from morning until midnight for the last four days, thanks to the weather forecast issued by the Srinagar Metrological office.

"The Met advice came a little late," he continued, "otherwise I could have rescued more produce."

Fruit farmers say the damage is especially severe in the steep Shopian area, where snowfall has been abundant and damage has been substantial. Whatever the case may be, the tastiest and most delectable apples in Kashmir are grown in Shopian.

Farmers report that in most regions, particularly in hilly areas, 50-60% of the crop was not harvested. Zawoora, Badrihama, Pinjora, Aglar, Balpora, Sheermal, Keller, Abhama, Arihal, and Sangerwani have been particularly hard impacted.

Bashir Basheer, President of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Union, has requested the government to provide prompt financial assistance to growers who have incurred losses. "Apple producers should be made aware of measures that will protect their crops from additional harm." Aside from that, some relief should be provided," he added.

Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, Director of Horticulturestated that he has visited numerous orchards in South Kashmir and is aware of the losses. He claimed his department advised producers to speed up apple harvesting after the weather forecast projected significant snowfall and rains, but farmers did not harvest the entire crop since the apples had not taken up the colour. "Today, I examined the damage by conducting on-the-spot visits." According to my first reports, snowfall has caused 10% of the damage," he stated. 

He claims that timely pruning, brushing snow off the trees on a regular basis, and providing support to the branches will reduce tree damage. 

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