Untimely snow damages apple orchards in Kulgam, Shopian districts in Kashmir

Director, horticulture, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, who visited the apple orchards in south Kashmir, said as per initial estimates, 30% of fruit crops got damaged by the untimely snowfall.
The untimely snow in the third week, especially in the upper reaches of Kulgam and Shopian in Kashmir, damaged apple orchards. (HT photo)
The untimely snow in the third week, especially in the upper reaches of Kulgam and Shopian in Kashmir, damaged apple orchards. (HT photo)
Published on Nov 01, 2021 01:48 AM IST
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By, Srinagar

The early snowfall in the southern region in October has caused heavy damages to orchards and 30% of the fruit crop that was ready for the harvest has been lost to nature’s fury.

Officials said this year while orchards in north Kashmir witnessed less fruit crop, the orchards in southern parts had a bumper crop. The untimely snowfall in the third week, especially in the upper reaches of Kulgam and Shopian districts, affected not only the fruit but also trees got damaged or uprooted at many places.

Director, horticulture, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, who visited the apple orchards in south Kashmir, said as per initial estimates, 30% of fruit crops got damaged by the untimely snowfall.

He said in south Kashmir growers had a bumper crop this year.

“Unfortunately, growers faced damage to 30% crop or lost the matured apple trees due to the snowfall,” he said.

He said the snow damaged apple in the upper belts of Shopian and Kulgam districts.

Prior to the snowfall, the horticulture department had issued an advisory for the growers asking them to complete apple harvest before snowfall that occurred on October 22 and 23.

“Despite our advisory, many growers couldn’t complete their harvest due to the shortage of labourers and other issues. After migrant labourers left Kashmir in mid-October soon after the killing of non-locals in different parts of Kashmir, the labour shortage also affected the timely harvest in some areas, though most of the harvesting is done by locals themselves,” he added.

“Timely harvest helped reduce the losses to some extent otherwise things would have been worst,” said Bhat, who has asked growers that they should complete harvesting of apples till the third week of October. “At times growers deliberately delay harvest which results in the loss of fruit crop or damage due to untimely snow. At times it helps the growers to fetch good rates in the market,” Bhat said.

Despite the losses, many growers say apple rates in mandis are good. “We are getting good rates for our produce, which will help to compensate the losses,” said Farooq Sofi, a grower from north Kashmir.

On Thursday, J&K lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said Jammu and Kashmir farmers who suffered losses in the recent snowfall would be provided assistance.

Sinha said the snowfall had been declared a natural calamity.

“The assessment of the loss is going on. Farmers will be provided all possible assistance,” Sinha told mediapersons after inaugurating an apple festival at the Sheri Kashmir International Convention Centre, Srinagar.

“We have suffered losses due to untimely snowfall. This is the second time since 2019 when snow left our harvest completely damaged. The government should declare this as natural calamity and compensate the growers who suffered losses, otherwise, we are ruined,” said Yasir Banday, a grower from Shopian.

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