Orchardists use boats for plucking apples

Bandipora: This year the fruit growers of Bandipora and Baramulla have to shun ladders and buckets and use boats for plucking apples in their orchards.
Abdul Rashid Dar of Batipora, Naidkhai is waiting for the boat to arrive but not for carrying any rescue or relief operations. His need is different as he has to salvage some of the fruits from the two acre apple orchard at Markundal.
The floods have devastated thousands of acres of apple orchards in Sonawari, Bandipora and neighboring Baramulla, with floodwaters inundating the trees up to the trunk level. Growers in this area are now hiring boats to salvage some of the fruits.
“We have never seen such devastation. I was expecting more than 3000 boxes of fruit from this orchard. But post floods I think only 300 are possible,” Dar told Kashmir Reader.
He is not the lone grower who encountered such devastation.
Sajad Ahmad Bhat too had acquired several orchards and was expecting bumper crop this year. “The orchards mostly have the delicious variety of apple and we were ready to harvest them. But rains that unleashed floods in whole of the Valley inundated vast areas under horticulture land,” he said.
The orchardists now face another problem. They have to use boats to pluck fruits from the tree. They say that the plucking exercise on boats has to be carried with care and is time consuming. Each boatman charges Rs 1200 per day for this odd exercise.
“Normally we use ladders and buckets for harvesting apple on different trees with packing done in the orchard itself. But this time we will unload the plucking on the nearby road and packing will be carried at some dry places,” they said.
Javaid Ahmad, a resident of Mijibal, Markundal said, “Tons of apples fell from the trees during floods and most of them entered into our homes. Presently we are cleaning the mess. We now fear that these waste apples can trigger an epidemic in the area.”
According to Dar, farmers in Sonawari over the years have switched to apple cultivation from paddy or maize crop. “Floods now have caused a massive damage to these orchards,” he said.
Dar said that future of these orchards too is uncertain. “One needs to see if they can survive after the floods,” he said.

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