Untimely snowfall spells doom for orchards in Kashmir
Shopian: Muhammad Ashraf began to fidget as it started to rain in south Kashmir's Shopian district late on Friday evening. At around 11 pm, he fell into a fitful sleep, preoccupied with thoughts of his unharvested apple farm.
Ashraf woke up at the break of day and made a dash towards his apple farm along with seven labourers amid filthy weather. In a tearing hurry, they began to pick apples. Barely 20 minutes later, their hands felt numb and they headed back home.
"We picked up a few buckets of apples only and returned home as it started snowing heavily,” said Ashraf.
After nightlong rains, it started snowing early in the Saturday morning, spelling doom for the apple orchards.
An official said that the low lying areas of the district received 3 to 4 inches of snow while the upper reaches experienced up to 8 to 10 inches of snowfall.
Like Ashraf, hundreds of farmers, who had not yet harvested their crop made a beeline for their orchards and made bootless attempts to harvest their produce.
"We scrambled to pick the apples amid the inclement weather but to no avail", said a group of farmers from Reshinagari area.
Mir Muhammad Amin, an apple grower and president of Fruit Mandi Shopian said that around 30 percent of the crop was still on the trees in the entire district.
"In the upper belt, more than 50 percent of fruit is yet to be harvested", said Amin.
Peer Shabir Ahmad, executive member of the Mandi told Greater Kashmir that the snow and rains caused significant damage to both the crop and trees across the district.
According to Ahmad, the areas which suffered huge damage included Kellar, Devpora, Heerpora, Bohrihalan, Chotilora, Sedpora, Sedow, Reshnagri and Jamnagri.
Muhammad Ashraf, an apple grower from Kellar block concurred that the inclement weather caused considerable damage to both the crop and apple trees.
He however said that the exact loss could be assessed "once the weather improves".
Many farmers said that the snow and rains had caused damage to even the harvested plants lying under tarpaulin sheets in their farms.
Apple farmers' run of bad luck continues for the last many years. In 2018 and 2019, the early snowfall in the month of November wrecked havoc with apple farms. Last year scab attacked around 80 percent of the produce in the area, downgrading its quality.