Nov 8: Early
snowfall has wreaked havoc to the horticulture sector with 30 percent of fruit orchards
suffering extensive damages across the valley.
On Thursday Kashmir witnessed season’s
first snowfall that left a trail of death and destruction.
Horticulture sector has suffered the
maximum brunt with thousands of fruit trees getting uprooted due to the
“The Chief Secretary has directed us to
assess the losses to horticulture till Monday. We put the losses tentatively up
to 30 per cent,” Director of Horticulture department, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told The
Bhat said Shopian Baramulla and Budgam
districts are the worst affected. “Mostly branches of apple trees have fallen
due to the snowfall. Farmers are currently taking various measures to avoid
further damage,” he said.
Director Horticulture said farmers in
Shopian and Budgam districts have yet to harvest Maharaja variety of the apple.
“Maharaja Variety, which ripens late, has
not been harvested yet in many places.
We have issued an advisory to the growers to protect their fruit and
trees. Farmers have been asked not to allow accumulation of water in the
orchards”, he said.
Ghulam Mohammad, a grower from north
Kashmir’s Baramulla said the snowfall uprooted furit trees in Sopore, Pattan
and Tangmarg area.
“The trees had not shed leaves yet due to
which the damage is excessive this time. Farmers are yet to start the process
of pruning trees,” he said.
Iqbal Ahmad, a farmer from Shopian, said
growers are using logs of wood to fix the wilting tree branches. “Many growers
are now harvesting the apple to avoid further losses,” he said.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s
economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the
sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic
Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is
under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under
the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits
touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.
Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer
of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last
year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.