1 September, Srinagar: Kashmir’s apple yield is predicted to drop by roughly 40 percent due to poor weather and scab disease, leaving fruit farmers distraught.
Apple harvesting has started, but farmers aren’t very enthusiastic because of this year’s bad weather and the emergence of the scab disease.
Without crop insurance and government minimum price assistance, poor farmers must bear the burden of substantial losses.
Bashir Ahmad Basheer, president of the All Kashmir Fruit Growers Union, said that this year’s scab disease spread throughout the fruit trees due to unseasonal rains in July. Essential pesticides were employed to battle the scab disease, against the advice of the Horticulture Department, but the flower buds on the trees began to break off dramatically, leading to reduced output this year.
Preliminary projections indicate a 40 percent drop in apple output this year, he added.
Without crop insurance, farmers “bear the brunt of losses,” as stated by Basheer.
He said that several orchards throughout Kashmir had meagre harvests this year.
Basheer said that the government should immediately guarantee the free flow of apple-laden vehicles on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway so that fruit farmers may easily export their goods.
Experts say that scab disease may decrease both the size and quality of the fruit.
It may also lead to defoliation, early fruit drop, and stunted growth of fruit buds the next year.
When circumstances are right and preventative precautions aren’t taken, apple scab may wipe out an entire harvest.
Fayaz Ahmad Malik, president of the Sopore Fruit Mandi, claims that the government is not giving the horticultural business the attention it deserves.
“The farmers followed the spray schedules recommended by the appropriate bodies, yet the scab disease nevertheless destroyed output. Since there have been no scab outbreaks despite the use of pesticides, he concluded that all the pesticides being used in Kashmir are fake. “Additionally, the administration has been touting the imminent implementation of a crop insurance policy. Over a decade has passed, and the crop insurance is still nowhere to be seen.
According to Malik, if there had been a crop insurance plan in place, the farmers would not have been responsible for paying for all of the losses out of their own pockets.
“By paying a premium, they could readily seek claims from the insurance companies in such dire situations,” he said.
The department head of horticulture confirmed that the decrease in output was caused by a combination of bad weather and scab infestations.
However, he said, “Losses are just hard to estimate at the moment. At the conclusion of the harvest season, we’ll know how much output has dropped compared to recent years.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, and the city of Kashmir in particular, have earned the nicknames “land of fruits” and “fruit bowl” of North India.
The horticultural sector’s contribution to SGDP is around 9.5%.
Roughly 7 lakh households are impacted by the fruit industry in some way.
The horticultural industry in J&K accounts for 8.50 crore man-days annually.