In yet another major jolt to ailing Kashmir fruit industry, the Wednesday’s hailstorm in south Kashmir has caused extensive damage to the apple and cherry crop.
The initial assessment carried by the department of horticulture has pegged the losses to the fruit in the ripening stage at around 20 percent.
“Our field staff visited the affected villages in both the districts – Kulgam and Shopian— to assess the loss caused by the hail-storm,” Director Horticulture, Ajaz Ahmad told Greater Kashmir.
He said the loss is more in DH Pora- Noorabad and Yaripora areas of Kulgam district. “The orchards there have suffered losses between 20 and 30 percent,” Ahmad said.
He said, “In Shopian, the loss ranges from 10 to 15 percent, and if we calculate the average loss in the twin districts, it will be above 20 percent.”
He, however, said their field staff had already issued advisories to the farmers in this regard.
The worst-hit villages, according to officials in Kulgam are: Asnoor – Manzhama, Watnoo, Khul- Hanjipora, Pandipora, Checki Watoo, Rewatan Mirwani all in DH Pora belt. Many villages of Yaripora too have suffered partial to heavy damage to the fruit.
The orchard owners said they were in distress since long. “Last year, we were not able to transport the fruit on time to outside markets due to clampdown in the wake of abrogation of article-370. Later, it was the untimely snowfall in early November that damaged most of the apple fruit. And now, we have again been hit by the hailstorm,” said Khurshid Ahmad, an orchard owner from DH Pora.
In Shopian, the worst-hit villages are: Pahnoo, Pahlipora, Naid Gund. Kanipora Alyalpora, Devipora, Cheki Amshipora, and Cheki- Shamsipora.
“We were expecting a bumper crop this year but the hailstorm dashed our hopes,” said Muhamad Yasin Dar, from Pahnoo village.
Dar said that almost entire apple and cherry fruit in his spiralling 10 kanal orchard has got damaged. “We are not in a position to repay the bank interest or KCC loan now,” he said.
Other affected villages include: Pinjoora, Rang Marg, Sedaw, Sedaw-check, Sedaw Payeen, Chotipora, Awneera, Chermarg, Derpora, Baghpora, Safnagri, and Wachi.
Meanwhile, the farmers appealed to the government for compensation. “The authorities should immediately carry out proper assessment and at least compensate us for the losses,” said Nazir Ahmad from Shopian.
He said the government should also implement crop insurance scheme in Kashmir.