Srinagar, 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 snowfall
“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 Kashmir Monitor.
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.