Paucity of workforce add to worries of farmers

Paucity of workforce add to worries of farmers
GK File Photo

Shopian, Oct 22: The inclement weather forecast and paucity of workforce have caused much distress among the apple growers in south Kashmir's Shopian district.

As the apple harvesting season is at its peak in the area, weathermen forecasting snow and rains from October 22 to October 24 coupled with shortage of farmworkers have sent thousands of farmers into a tizzy.

Mubashir Ahmad, who owns a vast apple orchard sprawling over 15 kanals said that he was beavering away to harvest his crop before October 24.

"We are trying hard to pick all the apples before the weather turns bad,” Ahmad said.

He said that as farmers were scrambling to harvest their crop, the shortage of workforce causing expensive labour costs had made things worse.

"There is usually a shortage of workforce in this season. The prediction about the unseasonal snowfall and exodus of non-local labourers has made the things worse", Ahmad said, adding that the daily labour wages have gone up from Rs 600 to Rs 900.

Following the recent targeted killings, thousands of non-local labourers have made homeward journey, creating a shortage of workforce in the Valley.

Many farmers say that the forecast has made them jittery as they are in the midst of harvesting season.

"Harvesting season in this area begins comparatively a bit late. Most of the farmers are not yet done with the apple picking process", he said.

According to the farmers, around 35 to 50 percent of the crop is yet to be harvested.

Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, president Fruit Growers and Zamindar Association told Greater Kashmir that more than 50 percent of the apple crop in higher reaches of the district was still on the trees.

"Farmers in the hilly villages like Kellar, Devpora, Saidpora, Reshnagri, Jamnagri and Amshipora began the harvesting process merely a week ago", Malik said.

He said that the forecast had raised the spectre of 2018 when an early November snowfall spelt doom for apple orchards in the Valley

Director General Horticulture Aijaz Ahmad Bhat said that the department had already issued an advisory asking the farmers to expedite the harvesting process given the weather forecast.

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