Shopian orchardists apprehensive of horticulture taking toll due to dry spell

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Shopian: The prolonged dry spell would adversely affect the future of horticulture sector in Kashmir. With no sufficient rains since last summer and no rains or snow this winter, especially in Chillai-kalan – a 40-day long phase of winter in Kashmir, there is a likelihood of unavailability of adequate irrigation water during the summers and autumn and that in turn could lead to low horticulture yield.
According to horticulture experts, right time snowfall and low temperatures lead to a better horticulture yield.
Senior horticulture expert, Akhter Hussain believes that dry spell and no snow was very bad for horticulture sector. “It will affect both the quality and quantity of the produce. The moisture level will go down and there will be water stress,” he said.
Hussain said that when there is no snow and winter, the trees come out of dormancy period and there will be flushing and, later, if the temperatures go down with rain or snow, that would badly affect the new production while injuring the buds. Orchardists and fruit growers are apprehensive with the continuous dry spell. They say the dry weather would badly affect the horticulture sector. “We are left with only prayers. Snow and rainfall will solve our problems,” Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Shopian said.
Orchardists from several areas of Shopian and Pulwama said that due to the dry spell in the harvesting season of 2017, the quality of apple was badly affected. “Due to the dry weather, our apples were badly affected; lack of water reduces the shine, colour and juice of the fruits,” Muhammad Yaqob Mir from Pinjora area of Shopian said.
As per official records, 95 percent of population in district Shopian is directly dependent on horticulture sector while as 90 percent of population in Pulwama is dependent on both horticulture and agriculture. In Kulgam almost 80 percent population is dependent on horticulture while as 20 percent on agriculture.
According to the metrology department of Kashmir there were no sufficient rains or snowfall predicted, at-least not in the coming 15 days. “There will be light to moderate rain on 9, 10 January, however, no chance of heavy rain or snow is predicted,” said Lotus. Director meteorology said that there were such dry spells in the past too, like that of 2007, 2016.