Kashmir apples run into rough weather
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The rain and hailstorm — some parts of the Valley even received snowfall recently — lashed the state throughout April and May, with temperatures being recorded five degrees below normal. "Many places like Budgam, Kulgam, Shopian, Handwara, Kupwara, Baramulla received untimely snowfall, which damaged the fruits. The snowfall in higher reaches led to increase in cold, which is harmful for the fruits," says Bashir Ahmad, a fruit grower from north Kashmir.
The fruit growers have another major worry. The incessant rains and cold are likely to breed diseases that will further affect the crop. "These rains can cause diseases like scab in the fruits. This will also delay the ripening, cause their premature falling and will result in fruits of small size," says Dr Imtiyaz Lone, assistant professor at the Sher-e- Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST).
Kashmir Fruit Growers and Dealers Association chairman Ghulam Rasool Wagay says: "Apple varieties like 'Delicious' and 'American', besides pear and cherries, have been badly damaged. They cannot be sent to the market." The growers are demanding compensation from the government for the losses. "Our 70 per cent crop has been damaged. The government must intervene and provide us compensation for the damages. Otherwise, this industry will face a setback from which it will be difficult to recover," says Mushtaq Ahmad, a fruit grower from Shopian.
Deputy Director Hussain says the horticulture department is conducting the assessment of the damage and they will submit the report to government. "It is up to the government to decide the extent of compensation to the growers. Once the final report is submitted, the farmers will be paid compensations through revenue department as per the damages," he says.
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