Deficit rainfall threatens crop damage

The rainfall deficit and hot weather conditions in the Valley have made the farmers and the orchard owners a worrying lot. After witnessing two-season back-to-back huge losses due to untimely snow in November 2018 and 2019, the growers were hopeful that this season their condition may change.  “But the continued dry spell has become a major worry for us,” the growers said.

Abdul Majid Wani, a saffron grower from Pampore said the peak harvest season of saffron shall begin October end. “I can only pray that there is sufficient rainfall.”

Farmers said that corn, pulses, paddy, vegetables and other farm produce have taken a major hit.

Director Agriculture (Kashmir), Altaf Aijaz Andrabi said if dry weather continued for next few weeks, there is “possibility of crop damage”.

“Not just corn, even the paddy could be badly affected,” said Andrabi.

Director Horticulture (Kashmir), Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Greater Kashmir that farmers have been informed that  spraying of insecticides and pesticides during hot temperatures in the daytime can prove harmful for the crop.

“We are keeping growers aware about the spraying schedule. During the extreme high temperatures, growers should even avoid watering of orchards during day time. Let them water the orchards during early morning and late evening hours,” Bhat said.

Aflaq Hamid, a Plant Pathologist at SK University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) told Greater Kashmir: “Climate change resulting in rainfall deficit and extremely high temperatures is a matter of worry for farming.

“The high temperatures due to climate change will gradually change the dynamics of cultivation. The cultivation patterns as well as insect pest and diseases, plant diseases patterns will also shift. An example of this is that in Kashmir we were not having the problem of white flies but with increasing temperature we are witnessing white flies in our farms. These insect pests are bringing a lot of viral diseases in fruit, crops and vegetables,” said Hamid.

Hamid said there have been recent reports of damage to paddy cultivation, especially in north Kashmir where paddy is highly irrigation dependent. He said reports have “suggested that there is a huge possibility of 100 per cent loss to such paddy due to the dry weather.”

Potable water scarcity

Meanwhile, inhabitants of different localities from summer capital Srinagar informed this newspaper about scarcity of potable water. “It is a very tough situation that on one hand there is extreme hot weather and at same time we are facing water shortage. We can only pray for a good spell of rainfall to end this dry spell,” said Muhammad Shafi of Hyderpora.

A resident of Shalteng said that they were facing acute drinking water shortage. “The houses at the tail end of the residential colonies, Usmanabad Lane 3, and others are facing drinking water shortage. We have to fill our tanks during night so that we can have water during the days,” he said.