Pulwama/Shopian: The persistent dry spell that has been continuing for quite some time now is taking a heavy toll on the Apple production, its marketing and health of locals in Kashmir Valley.
Orchardists say that due to intense heat and dry weather conditions, most of the apples failed to ripen properly and also showed a dull colour and shine.
“The persistent dry spell has damaged the apples. Unlike the previous years, the apples are feeble in colour and shine as well,” they said.
Experts believe that the apples need a moderate temperature especially during maturing and harvesting season but the unfavorable temperature has resulted in the losses to the orchardists.
Muhammad Yousuf, an orchardist from Lassipora Pulwama said that due to this prolonged dry spell, most of the streams and canals have dried up, which has worsened the situation.
“With the constant dry spell, we were not able to irrigate our orchards,” he said.
He added that intense heat has left their fruits colourless and without the required shine due to which the apples have not been able to fetch the required rates in the fruit mandis spread across North India.
Pertinently, orchardists from Kashmir have suffered huge losses due to diseases that have infested the crops and the continuing unrest in the state.
Mohammad Amin, an orchardist from Shopian district said that despite disease free and more apple yield this year, they fear of heavy losses due to downgraded apple due to dryness and less rates in the market.
He added that last year their apple yield was about 300 apple boxes and he earned about 1.5 lakh. However, he said that this year the apple yield is about 500 apple boxes but they fear of loss as market is not responding with fair rates as the downgraded apple is worrying the commission and forwarding agents as well.
Amin added that Kashmiris apples are famous all over South Asia but this year due to the dry spell, Kashmiri apples have lowered in terms of rates all over.
Despite repeated attempts, Chief Horticulture Officer Pulwama and Chief Horticulture Officer Shopian were available for the comments.
However, a senior Horticulture Officer said that every year they provide orchardists with pumps in some areas but still most areas are uncovered, there is need to work upon on this front, he said.
Meanwhile, the continuing dry spell is also posing serious health implications particularly among kids and elderly persons.
Dr Abdul Majeed, an ENT specialist working in Pulwama district said that due to dry weather, most patients visiting the government hospital here are complaining of cough and breathing related issues.
He added that this dry spell is providing an environment for growth of many types of viruses, which affects mostly kids and elderly persons.
He said that in case the weather conditions won’t change, there is more chance that these infections may spread and more people will get affected.
Meanwhile, Director Meteorological department (MeT) Sonam Lotus said that they are not expecting any change in weather conditions in the next 15 days.