Fruitless labour

  • GULZAR BHAT
  • Publish Date: Jun 24 2019 3:36AM
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  • Updated Date: Jun 24 2019 3:36AM
Fruitless labourRepresentational Pic

Last week, Mohammad Rafiq, a resident of Saidpora village of   Shopian district  was staring at the sullen sky from the window of his modest house. And as  clouds turned pitch dark, Rafiq got fidgety and shut the window. Soon it started pouring down heavily and his worst fears came true as the corrugated iron roof  of his house began to be hit by the pellets of hail. The hailstorm lasted several minutes and spelt doom for the standing crops of cherry and apple in the area.

Soon after Rafiq  made a dash for his nearby orchard to assess the  damage. 

“Nearly one-third  of the apple crop was devoured by the storm, “ said Rafiq.

Many farmers in this village of well-heeled orchardists had the same news to share. 

“Not only the apples but the cherry crop that was ready to harvest also got damaged,” said another   farmer, gesturing towards a  windfall under a tree.

The rains coupled with hailstorm have damaged the standing crops in a number of villages in Shopian and neighbouring Kulgam district. 

While the village like  Saidapora,  Kachdora, Vehil, Chatwatan, Kapran and Hanjipora in Shopian district have witnessed a sharp hailstorm, the vagaries of weather did not spare Damhal Hanjipora, Kund, Gopalpora, Nehma Bathipora and  Nillow areas of Kulgam district. 

According to a horticulturalist 20 to 25 percent of apple crop has been damaged in both the districts.

Mohammad Shafi, a small farmer in Kulgam district’s Damhal Hanjipora area said that the hail stones  damaged and knocked down the apple crop. 

He pegged the damage of his farm at around 25 percent. 

 

Damage to Cherry crop

The torrential rains and hailstorm have left many cherry growers from Losdaneow, Ganowpora, Saidpora, Imamsahab, Pinjura and Keegam villages of Shopian district in utter distress. 

According to the farmers, around 30 to 35 percent of the stone fruit got damaged due to the bad weather conditions.

The varieties  which suffered the most  included Double, Siyah and Makhmali while as the Mishri and Jadi varieties suffered lesser  damage. 

“The damage in some villages is more than 40 percent. The authorities have yet to assess the loss,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, president Fruit and  Zamindar Association. 

Malik added that the authorities did not seem much serious towards the fruit industry. 

Mohmmad Yasin, who owns a cherry orchard in Losdaneow area of the district said that his orchard had suffered around 50 percent of damage.

Many young cherry growers in the area also complained that the government had failed to introduce the new varieties of cherry.

“There are many varieties of cherry but owing to the government apathy we are still doing with the traditional ones”, said Sabzar Ahmad, a young grower, adding that popular Bing variety has yet to make inroads in our district.

 

Falling prices

Apart from the vagaries of weather, a significant plunge in the prices of cherries have added to the woes of growers.

A two kilogram  box of Double variety, according to growers, sells for Rs 80 to 90 in local Mandi. 

“The prices plummeted because the juice factories buy the variety at rather cheap prices” said an orchardist. 

The growers are forced to sell the produce in the local Mandis as there are no proper transportation facilities available for them. 

“ Every  variety  of cherry has a short shelf life so the fruit needs to be transported  within hours to the markets outside state. But unfortunately we don’t have  the facilities like refrigerated trucks and vans”, he said.

A senior horticulture official told Greater Kashmir that they did not have reports of any kind of damage to cherries from the area.  He, however, said  that the department would soon asses the loss caused to apple crop.