Flood hits vegetable fields, growers panic

SRINAGAR: Excess rainfall in early spring has panicked the vegetable growers who have already suffered a significant loss to seedlings and to the about-to-germinate-seeds.
The Valley, including this summer capital of the state, has received heavy rains intermittently in the past few weeks. As per the Metrological service of Agronomy Division of SK University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST-K), more than 103mm of rain was received only in the last week.
Rainfall has resulted in severe water logging of the fields here, causing, as per the vegetable growers, damage to the seedlings and the seeds.
“Spring is the transition season, when the farmers prepare for summer by sowing seeds and nurturing the seedlings. But the rains have destroyed the seedlings as well as the seeds, which were yet to germinate,” worried Muhammad Sidiq Bhat, a grower from Noor Bagh here, told Kashmir Reader.
Bhat said he lost the standing crops to floods in September. About seven months later, his field is submerged under six-inch deep water.
“The seeds sown in winter had just sprouted when the weather turned ugly in the last week. We are trying to drain out the excess water from the fields, but there is less hope that the seeds and seedlings will recover,” Bhat said.
The growers had pinned hopes on this year’s potential produce to make up for the financial losses inflicted by the devastating September floods.
“We have been trying to grow fresh vegetables such as spinach, kale, knolkhol, and radish this year. We expected to have our first harvest in the next week, but uncertainty prevails over everything now,” Sameer Ahmad, whose field is located at Kawdara here, said.
This year, Sameer said, farming has been an expensive business, with seedlings proving to be a rare and costly commodity as compared to the previous years.
“Last year, I brought a kilogram of seeds for Rs 600. But this time we paid almost double for the same quantity,” he said.
“We invested a lot, not able to predict the condition we are in now. These are testing times for us.”
In its latest advisory, SKUAST-K has asked the farmers to stop all field operations during the prevailing bad weather.