Kashmir: Apple orchards might not sustain climatic changes, farmers losing upto 40 percent crop every year

Written By: Idrees Lone WION
Srinagar, India Published: Nov 29, 2021, 04:43 PM(IST)

Apple orchards in Kashmir before and after snowfall Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

Researchers believe that the last two decades have seen major climatic changes in the Kashmir Valley, but In the last five years, the apple orchard farmers had to bear the maximum brunt

The famous Apple Orchards of Kashmir Valley might soon vanish due to the erratic climatic changes in the region. The valley in the last decade has seen major climatic changes like early snowfall due to which farmers have lost around 40 percent of the crop every year. 

In 2021, the first snowfall of the season in the Kashmir valley happened in the month of October. At that time the majority of farmers had not harvested the produce. Researchers say the damage to the apple orchards and produce was between 4-40 percent.

A new research done by Dr. Irfan Rashid suggests that the apple orchards of the valley might not sustain if these climatic conditions prevail. 

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''We have a substantial number of farmers all across the Kashmir valley who are doing apple farming. What has happened over the last two or three decades is we are experiencing changes in many meteorological parameters. We have very instrumental evidence with us that is temperature and precipitation patterns. If you look at precipitation patterns, we used to receive substantial precipitation in winters, there were some sporadic events in springs also but Autumn used to be dry but what we are seeing now is erratic snowfall during autumn,'' said Dr. Irfan Rashid, Coordinator, Department of GeoInformatics, Kashmir University. 

''If we look at Met History we experienced very heavy snowfall in the first week of November in 2018 and in 2019. We received snowfall in the month of October which is very early. There are many varieties of apples that are harvested in November so obviously when we have erratic snowfalls, the crop will suffer and also damage the trees. In 2018 we did a survey, which suggested that 4-50 percent damage, some orchards were damaged up to 50 percent. On an average around 35 percent of our crop got damaged,'' he added.

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He also said that if we don't bring in the required changes, the horticulture industry which is the backbone of Kashmir's GDP will be majorly impacted.

''If we do not take into consideration the erratic snowfall patterns that Kashmir has been experiencing, this promulgation of horticulture as an economic savior of Jammu and Kashmir will not be sustainable in the long run,'' added Dr. Irfan Rashid, Coordinator, Department of GeoInformatics, Kashmir University. 

Researchers believe that the last two decades have seen major climatic changes in the Kashmir Valley, but In the last five years, the apple orchard farmers had to bear the maximum brunt. This year was the third consecutive harvest destroyed by the early snowfall.

2019 saw the maximum damage as Kashmir witnessed the heaviest snowfall during that year damaging crops and trees worth millions. 

The Horticulture department has been promoting High-Density Apple orchards to the farmers. A huge number of farms have been converted from traditional apple orchards to High-Density ones. The horticulture department as well as the researchers also believe shifting to High density could save the industry. 

''In my research also, we basically vouched for High-density apple orchards, but we have to take into consideration the harvest season and timing has to not be October and November it has to be early. if we receive snowfall in October like this year, it might be likely in years to come October may see snowfall again,  so if we have apple varieties where apples are harvested in the month of October, it will be unsustainable, but if we have varieties that can be harvested by mid-September or late September that could be a good way to sustain and channelise horticulture,'' said Dr. Irfan Rashid, Coordinator, Department of GeoInformatics, Kashmir University

The farmers on the other hand say it would be extremely difficult to shift to High-Density Orchards. The existing traditional Apple orchards would need to be completely taken off to plant new trees, which means huge losses to the farmers. 

 

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