Srinagar: Staring at huge losses, apple growers have sent an SOS to the government to implement a Market Intervention Scheme (MIS).
This follows inclement weather that caused huge damage to the apple crop this year.
After a hailstorm earlier this year, the apple crop in Kashmir is grappling with the prolonged dry weather, which the growers claimed has degraded the quality of apple fruit.
Since August, Kashmir has been mainly witnessing dry weather conditions with minimum rainfall. According to India Meteorological Department data related to the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), approximately 80 percent of the area in the Kashmir region (8 out of 10 districts), has been impacted by moderate to extreme dryness between August 3rd and August 30th.
MET Kashmir has predicted the dry weather to continue for eight more in the valley.
“We have appealed to the government to implement the MIS scheme so that our Grade C apple is procured. This year, we witnessed a huge loss to the apple crop due to the hailstorm in the beginning months of the year,” said Fayaz Ahmad Malik, President North Kashmir Apple Growers Association.
He said the prolonged dry weather further complicated the problems for the apple growers by degrading the quality of apple crop.
“Apple crop necessarily requires rain spells during August and September. The crop harvest will begin in the coming month and we fear that our growers may face huge losses if it doesn’t rain in the coming weeks,” he said.
Amid dry weather conditions, the farmers across the valley are managing irrigation for the apple orchards.
“From north to south, people are now managing irrigation of their orchards but still it is not sufficient. Because of the dearth of rainfall, the size of the apple is small and color formation is weak. Timely rains are always beneficial for apple crop,” said Nazeer Ahmad Wani, an apple grower from Baramulla.
He said the prolonged dry weather could also delay the harvesting of apple crop. “Currently a very small quantity of apples is entering fruit mandis. The harvesting season for high-density apple varieties has begun but traditional varieties comprise almost 80 percent of the total apple crop in the valley,” Wani said.
In 2020, the government implemented MIS and procured 12,00,000 MTs of apples from the growers.
Meanwhile, officials of the horticulture department said they are issuing advisories to the farmers about measures to protect against any sort of damage to the apple crop.
“We have been regularly advising our framers to include various sprays in their schedule and irrigate their orchards to ensure a better crop,” they said.