Sweet apples leaves a bitter taste for farmers in Kashmir

Official figures reveal that seven per cent of the fruit orchards have been hit by the hail storm in south and north Kashmir.

Sweet apples leaves a bitter taste for farmers in KashmirIn the paradise, apples are no longer sweet for the farmers. Unprecedented hail storm coupled with untimely rains have wreaked havoc to the fruit orchards in Kashmir. Fruit growers have suffered Rs200 crore loss due to the untimely fall of fruit flowers.

This is the second time that the fruit growers have suffered losses in the last two years. Last year, the fruit growers suffered loss of over Rs1425 crore due to the devastating floods.

“We have suffered the loss of Rs200 crore this year. The hail storm wreaked havoc to the orchards. It was flowering stage and the hail storm caused the premature fall. This means our production will be hit because of this phenomenon,” Bashir Ahmad Bashir, president, New Kashmir Fruit Association, told dna.
Official figures reveal that seven per cent of the fruit orchards have been hit by the hail storm in south and north Kashmir. “There is almost seven per cent loss to the flowering due to the hail storm. Mostly south Kashmir and Rafiabad belt in north Kashmir have been hit. Despite this we are expecting a good crop this season”, Manzoor Ahmad, subject matter specialist at the department of horticulture Kashmir, told dna.

Horticulture is the mainstay of the economy in Kashmir with 23 lakh people associated with this sector. More than 2.37 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the Kashmir valley. Of which 65 per cent comprise of the apple orchards.

Last year, the government was expecting the record fruit production of 22.76 lakh metric tonnes. However the September 2014 floods coupled hit the fruit production badly. Crops on 1.47 lakh hectares of land were ruined. Against the expected production of 22.76 lakh metric tonnes, only 13.55 lakh metric tonnes of fruit production was recorded in 2014.

According to official information reveal that last year the losses were Rs1425 crore. However the fruit growers had submitted the memorandum to the Centre putting the loss at Rs 2890 crore.

Even before the farmers could cope up with the last year’s devastation, the unusual climatic pattern is making the things worse this year too. “We expect that the government will take steps to help us in saving our crops”, said Bashir.

Experts are hopeful that this year they would be able to stem the rot since the season is conducive for corrective measures. “We have recommended certain measures to the growers. This is the season when the recovery process could yield results,” said Manzoor.