Kulgam: The untimely snowfall has wreaked havoc in upper areas of south Kashmir's Kulgam district with trees being uprooted and almost 70 percent standing crop which was yet to be harvested damaged.
“The foliage-laden trees and even varieties of apple-like Maharaji, Delicious, Golden and even Kulu and Kullu delicious were yet to be harvested,” said Gul Muhamad Banday, President fruit growers association Kulgam.
November is the end of autumn in Kashmir and witnesses trees shedding their leaves towards the end of the month.
Before the routine snowfall, the growers would prune the apple trees for better production and avoid damages during snowfall.
“As the snow accumulated on the branches, they crumbled under its weight, resulting in large-scale damage,” said Banday.
An official of the horticulture department said as per initial assessment the damage is almost 60 percent in upper areas of DH Pora –Noorabad in Kulgam where it snowed heavily. These areas include; Chimmer, DK Marg, Nandmarg, Aharbal, Laisoo, Gudar, Malvan, Nehama, Khuli Batpora , Nillaw, Kaprin, Paddarpora,
“The orchards have suffered 50 percent damage in these areas,” an official said.
He said 60 percent of the fruit which was yet to be harvested stands damaged.
Another official said,” We are assessing the losses caused by the district.”
“ The snowfall has wreaked havoc in our apple orchards with almost all trees damaged. Even the delicious apple variety which we were yet to harvest is gone,” said a visibly dejected orchardist, Muhamad Shabir who has an orchard land spreading over 30 Kanals.
He said even the fruit which was harvested but yet to be packed stands damaged.
The farmers are seeking compensation for the losses.
“ The government should immediately carry out an assessment and at least compensate us for the losses,” said Banday.
He said the government like in other states should implement the crop insurance scheme to alleviate their sufferings
The orchardists were already in distress for the past three years due to the lockdown that followed following the abrogation of the special status of JK and later due to COVID-19.
“ We have already suffered huge losses in the last two years and this snowfall now is a double whammy for us,” said a grower Khurshid Ahmad Ahmad DH Pora.
The apple orchards have also suffered partial damages in Pulwama, Dachnipora (Bijbehara-Pahalgam) areas in the Anantnag district.