Damaged crop dampens wedding season in ‘apple bowl’ of Kashmir

Devastated orchard owners try to mend trees felled by untimely snowfall, say compensation announced is just a speck in comparison to the losses November is the peak wedding season in south Kashmir’s ‘apple bowl’ Shopian. But Riyaz Dar, an orchard owner from Hirpora village in the district, has decided to postpone his sister’s wedding following the snowfall which devastated the standing crop and inflicted vertical split in 63 of his 100 trees. “I was waiting to sell off unharvested apple in the second week of November. We were expecting good money to marry my sister off. But instead of wedding preparations, I am busy drilling the broken tree trunks to rejoin them with large screws. My fingers are crossed on how many will survive and how many will bear fruits again,” said Dar. Kashmir witnessed untimely heavy snowfall in the plains on November 3-4, acting as an axe for the thousands of harvested and unharvested apple trees in south, central and north Kashmir. Two major apple varieties, the tangy Ambri and sweet Golden, mainly harvested in November, were badly impacted and are unlikely to hit the country’s markets in bulk this season. Experts during the meeting of the State Disaster Response Fund, headed by Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, on Friday warned that returns from the horticulture crops, especially apple, “will dip for the next two to three years”, fuelling rise in apple prices across the country. A preliminary report of the Horticulture Department suggests that fresh plantation in 6,000 out of 20,000 hectare has been damaged. “Fifteen lakh trees have been damaged due to the snowfall,” said Director (Horticulture) Manzoor Ahmad Qadri. Around 1.44 lakh hectare is under apple cultivation in Kashmir. Mr. Qadri said scientists and experts have been deployed to assess the losses, including the future fruit-bearing capacity of partially damaged trees. “Technical support is being provided for binding of damaged trees for their recovery,” he said. The State administration has declared the untimely snowfall a “special natural calamity” to provide relief to the affected orchard owners. It announced Rs. 36,000 per hectare as damage to perennial crops like apple.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/damaged-crop-dampens-wedding-season-in-apple-bowl-of-kashmir/article25466364.ece

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