November 2018 News

Snow Fury: Kashmir Apple Production May Fall In Coming Years

7 November 2018
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: Apple production in Kashmir may be adversely hit in coming years in the wake of damage to fruit-bearing trees following recent snowfall in the Valley, officials said on Wednesday. Director horticulture department Kashmir Manzoor Ahmad Qadri said orchards across the Valley have suffered damage due to last week's snowfall. 'It will take us a week's time to come up with exact quantum of damage and losses,' Qadri told Greater Kashmir. But, he said, it is for sure that our production of apples will be 'adversely hit' in coming years 'due to damage to fruit-bearing trees.' In Kashmir, around 144825 hectare land is under apple cultivation. According to fruit growers, around 20 to 30 percent apple crop across northern and southern areas of the Valley-which was yet to be harvested-has been damaged by the snowfall that took place in November after a gap of nine years. The average apple production in Kashmir is 17 lakh metric ton per-year. As per the economic survey report of 2017, apples worth Rs 6,500 crore were exported from the Valley. 'This snow has not only damaged crops but also fruit-bearing trees which makes the losses recurring. Though there is no mechanism to measure the exact quantum of losses, but using our basic parameters, we peg the losses at over Rs 1000 crore this year alone,' said Bashir Ahmad Bashir, president, All Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Association. According to the horticulture department estimates, around 50,000 metric ton fruit was in 'transit phase' when snow hit the Valley. Around 5,000 fruit-laden trucks were stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu highway following heavy snowfall. These apples were meant to be exported for Diwali festival purposes. 'Since the apples could not reach mandis before the Diwali festival, farmers now will have to sell their produce at a throwaway prices,' said Bashir, explaining that during festive seasons, the demand for apples increases as result of which the quantity of export also goes up. Reports of damage to apple crop has been reported from Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama districts where certain varieties of apples were yet to be harvested. Orchards in villages of Rahmoo, Shadimarg, Rajpora, Qamrazipora and Sangarwani in Pulwama district have suffered huge damage. Damage to crops was also reported from Tral, Awantipora and Khrew areas which are known for apple production. President, Shopian Fruit Growers Association, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik said orchardists in southern Kashmir, particularly Shopian, have borne maximum brunt of recent snowfall. 'Major portion of apple produce was yet to be harvested. Apart from losses due to crop damage, orchards have been ruined by this untimely snow,' he said. 'Fruits worth more than Rs 1000 crore have been affected by early snowfall as per our estimates. Around 20 percent crop was yet to be harvested, apart from huge quantity of apples that was lying in orchards for packaging,' said president, Sopore Fruit Mandi, Fayaz Ahmad Malik. In central Budgam district, fruit growers complained of losses to both produce as well as apple plants. President, Fruit Growers Association Charar-i-Sharief, Bashir Ahmad said fruit orchards in Budgam have suffered huge losses. 'Around 20 to 30 percent harvest was still on trees which were damaged by the snow. The snow has caused frostiness to the trees which has serious financial implication for fruit growers,' he said. Meanwhile, the state government has sought help from the government of India to compensate the affected fruit growers. Chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has also urged the Centre to depute a team to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the damages and losses to the agriculture and horticulture sectors due to recent heavy snowfall in the state.

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