Fatal falls become hazardous for harvesting walnut

Experts advise farmers, people to adopt safety measures
A Kashmiri farmer washes just hulled walnuts on the outskirts of Srinagar.
A Kashmiri farmer washes just hulled walnuts on the outskirts of Srinagar. Mubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: With the walnut harvesting season in full swing, a rise in accidental deaths due to falls from walnut trees in the recent past has emerged as a major safety concern for the people in Kashmir.

The harvesting season of walnut, major horticulture produce of Kashmir, commences by late August and continues throughout September.

Amid the rising number of accidental deaths due to falls from walnut trees, experts have asked people to take safety measures to avoid such tragic incidents.

Several persons lost their lives while many were injured due to falls from walnut trees in different areas of north, south, and central Kashmir during the ongoing harvest season.

Experts believe that it was due to the crude traditional methods applied for walnut harvesting that many people fall from trees, resulting in their death or injuries.

Experts said that if the farmers were educated and used more scientific methods for harvesting, many lives could be saved.

Notably, last year, amid increasing falls from trees, Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Department issued dos and don’ts to avoid casualties during the walnut harvest season in Kashmir.

The State Emergency Operation Centre had said that it was becoming an occupational hazard for the traditional walnut farmers.

“If precautions are not taken, falling from height can cause serious spinal injuries,” the officials said. “People, particularly the walnut farmers, are requested to kindly adhere to the safety measures to avoid any further accidental deaths. Only experienced and trained persons should climb the walnut trees during harvest. Use a helmet and tie a safety harness rope, properly anchored, to break the fall,” the advisory said.

It also advised to ensure using a sturdy and durable thick rope besides the use of tall ladders to climb the trees.

This season also, the farmers have been advised to wear “non-slip boots and to check the weather forecast by IMD before planning for the harvest”.

The advisory asked people not to use long metal poles for harvesting as accidental contact with electric lines “can result in electrocution, serious injury, or death”.

“Remove logs, stones, and boulders around the base of the tree to reduce risk. Use safety nets or thick stacks of hay around the tree to prevent injury in case of an accidental fall. Ensure a stable and firm position before beating the walnuts. Learn basic first-aid from the nearest Civil Defence unit or health centre,” the advisory said. “In case anyone is injured, administer immediate first aid and carry the injured on hard-wooden planks or hard-stretchers to the nearest health centre. Mishandling the injured can cause damages, which can be fatal.”

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