It was an unexpected turn in weather. A sharp dip in temperature left people in the valley shiver, and the routine activities of life witnessed a kind of disruption. But the most devastating thing in this inclement turn was the snowfall in some of the areas in Kashmir. This untimely snowfall in areas like Shopian meant a huge economic loss for apple growers.
Since it is the time of harvesting, this snowfall damaged the orchards as the produce was still on the trees. The reports from these apple growing areas present a very grim picture. Almost half the orchards were, reportedly, unharvested when snowfall caught the farmers on this day.
It is a huge disaster for these orchardists, as it not only damaged the produce, but uprooted many trees. Imagine a farmer who worked hard for the year, and invested a lot in his orchard; when the day of harvesting was near, he lost everything. It means a total disaster for the family. In this condition what are the options for an orchardist who has invested his resources, and time, and then lost all of it in a just a moment. Is their a mechanism to rescue such sufferers. It is a natural calamity, and a farmer is completely defenceless in such a situation.
The weather update that was provided to orchardists two day before, and some urgent guidelines were also dished out, could not have made much of a difference because in just two days all the farmers could not have ensured harvesting. It was not possible to get the required labour, and even if some labour was available, it was not possible to accomplish the job in a day or two.
Not to speak of pruning, the time was not even enough for harvesting. The point now is that if such weather vagaries cannot be stopped what are the alternative ways of protecting our apple growers. Has the government thought of rescuing such farmers financially? Is there a plan for some kind of minimal insurance? Is there an arrangement in place to upgrade weather forecasting mechanism, so that we have ample time in case such a change is expected in weather. These are some of the serious questions and the concerned sections, within government, in the farming community, and the experts in horticulture and meteorology should focus on these.