SRINAGAR: Fruit growers in the Kashmir Valley are facing heavy losses due to recent hailstorms and drought-like conditions, according to the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-Cum-Dealers Union.
The union reported that a severe 20-minute hailstorm hit the Shopian district in areas like Katpura and Nadigam earlier this week. This caused extensive damage to fruit orchards across the region that were filled with ripe apples ready for harvest.
“The hailstorm has caused irreparable damage to all fruit orchards and orchard owners in the adjoining villages of Shopian. As apple harvesting is in full swing, the hailstorm has led to heavy losses of apples still on the trees,” said Bashir Ahmad Basheer, Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-Cum-Dealers Union.
In addition to the hailstorm, the lack of rain and high temperatures since early July have negatively impacted the fruit crops. The drought conditions have affected the size, color and productivity of many fruits including apples, according to orchard owners.
“A variety of apple varieties waiting to ripen on the trees, including American and Delicious, are likely to lose production due to the prolonged drought,” Basheer explained. “Kashmir’s fruit industry is feared to be hit hard.”
The fruit industry is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. Hence, any damage to it also harms the overall economy of the region. The union estimates that fruit growers are facing losses worth crores of rupees due to the recent climate conditions.
To provide relief, the union has requested the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to take the following emergency steps:
- Send teams from the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and the Horticulture Department to assess damage in Shopian’s orchards.
- Implement crop insurance schemes to compensate farmers for losses.
- Provide scientific guidance to fruit growers on disease prevention for remaining crops.