Srinagar, Sept 16: As a hailstorm hit fruit orchards in several areas of Shopian, Kashmir, on September 16, causing heavy damage to the fruit industry, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-Cum-Dealers Union has estimated that the damage could run into crores of rupees.
The hailstorm comes at a time when the fruit industry is already facing challenges due to drought and market uncertainty due to the removal of additional import duty of Washington apples. Farmers from several areas report that the lack of rain and rising temperatures have adversely affected the size, color, and quality of fruits, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, and President of The New Kashmir Fruit Association told Ziraat Times.
Apple growers are particularly worried, as the harvesting season is underway. Many varieties of apples, including American and Delicious, are likely to lose production.
Now, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-Cum-Dealers Union has urged the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to send a team of experts to assess the damage and provide relief to the affected growers. The union has also called for the implementation of a crop insurance scheme to protect growers from future losses.
In a statement to Ziraat Times, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union said that this unexpected natural disaster has sent shockwaves through the Valley, as it coincided with the peak apple harvesting season. Orchards in the vicinity of Shopian suffered irreparable losses, putting immense strain on orchard owners and industry workers.
The fruit industry holds a pivotal role in Kashmir’s economy, and any damage to it directly impacts the region’s financial stability the union said.
Adding to the woes, the continuous drought conditions since July have further threatened the industry.
Given the critical situation, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, representing all Fruit Growers Associations, has appealed to the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir with a request for immediate action in the following areas:
1. Dispatch an emergency team comprising officials from the Agriculture University (SKAUST) Shalimar and a joint task force from the Department of Horticulture, Development Department Kashmir, and Horticulture P&M to assess the damage caused by the recent heavy snow, rain, and hailstorm in District Shopian. Additionally, provide essential guidance to fruit growers to protect their remaining fruit trees from diseases.
2. The implementation of a Crop Insurance Scheme (Kissan Beema Yojana) is imperative. The Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union has long advocated for this scheme to provide relief in the event of minor calamities. Urgent implementation is requested to support Valley Based Fruit Growers during these challenging times.