Farmers throng orchards to assess losses post snowfall
Shopian: "My apple farm gives me the willies. The bad weather has devastated it beyond my imagination", says Javed Ahmad Bhat with words sticking in his throat.
As it began to rain and snow on Friday night, Bhat, an orchardist from Bongam Shopian started praying hard for weather to improve as he had yet to harvest his crops . On late Saturday evening when intensity of wintry mix tapered off, Bhat and his wife rushed to their farm, located a short walk away from their single-storied house.
"As we reached there, we saw apples strewn all across the farm with branches fallen on the ground", Bhat said.
He said that the bad weather damaged over 40 percent of his crop while causing damage 35 to 40 percent to apple trees.
As the weather improved since Sunday morning, thousands of apple farmers made a beeline for their orchards to harvest the crop and prune their farms.
The farmers in the outlying hilly villages like Kellar, Devpora, Dachnoo, Sedow, Saidpora, Chek, Bobrihalan, Chawan, Jamnagri and Reshnagri pegged the damage to fruit at more than 50 percent.
Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, president Fruit Growers and Zamindar association said that the damage caused to apple trees in these areas is nearly 40 percent.
"It's in sharp contrast with what horticulture officials had assessed," he said.
Director General Horticulture last week said that inclement weather caused 10 percent damage to the fruit. However the fruit growers contradict the loss percentage.
Muhamad Ashraf, a well-heeled orchardist from Saidpora village said that more than 55 percent of his produce went down the drain due to the early snowfall.
He said that most of the farmers in the area had not yet harvested their farms and that more than half of the apples were still on the trees when it started raining and snowing.
"We did not prepare food in our home upon seeing the devastation caused by the filthy weather to our orchard", Ashraf said.
He said that the damage would cut at least 60 percent of his annual income.
Another farmer from Sedow village said that the farmers in the area could barely recoup the production costs.
Most of the farmers find themselves tied up with a host of things in the area.
"We have a lot of things to deal with. We have to harvest the crop, prune the trees and fix the damage ", said a group of farmers from Kellar block. This is the third time since 2018 when an early snowfall spelt doom for the apple farms in the area.