In absence of irrigation canal orchardists suffer in Shopian village

Large swathes of apple farms in highlands face irrigation problems as the government has not built canals or made any alternate arrangements for the farmers to irrigate their farms.
Like Ashraf, scores of other farmers in the area have to press the water pumps into service to irrigate their apple orchards in absence of canal irrigation. [Representational Image]
Like Ashraf, scores of other farmers in the area have to press the water pumps into service to irrigate their apple orchards in absence of canal irrigation. [Representational Image] Mapxiel [Creative Commons]

Shopian: Muhammad Ashraf, an orchardist from Narwaw village of South Kashmir's Shopian district works hard to irrigate his apple farm sprawling over eight kanals of land.

He uses at least two water pumps and hard suction hose pipes to drift water from a canal flowing nearly 300 meters from his orchard.

Like Ashraf, scores of other farmers in the area have to press the water pumps into service to irrigate their apple orchards in absence of canal irrigation.

"This type of irrigation is very labour intensive ", says Ashraf.

According to Ashraf, a farmer has to irrigate his field at least thrice in a year and each irrigation cost him something in between Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000.

"It is not only about irrigation, we face tremendous difficulties while spraying the pesticides,” he said.

Ashraf said that the farmers had to travel long distances to ferry water in buckets and other vessels to spray pesticides to their orchards.

Large swathes of apple farms in highlands face irrigation problems as the government has not built canals or made any alternate arrangements for the farmers to irrigate their farms.

Besides Narwaw, many apple rich villages like Check Chotipora, Saidpora , Zawoora and Chitragam sans canal irrigation. “The government could have easily resolved the issue by either constructing canals or installing water pump sheds in these areas", said Abdul Qayoom, another farmer.

Qayoon believes that the lack of irrigation affected the production significantly.

"Sometimes due to scant rains and scorching summers, newly planted apple trees completely dry up ,"he added.

The apple industry provides employment to nearly 60 percent of the people in the district and is the key source of income.

The apple rich district, which is known for its high quality apples, produces around 3 to 3.5 lakh metric tonnes of fruit annually.

An official from the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control said that the department only maintained the existing canals from the perennial sources and had not been building the new infrastructure .

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