Drought conditions may not be over for Valley yet
SRINAGAR: The recent high-intensity rainfall has still not permanently ended the drought-like situation in the Valley which was declared by the state government two months ago. The rainfall that brought the river Jhelum roaring to the verge of floods accumulated in just two days, which is rare sight.
Due to less snowfall during winters, the government had advised farmers not to grow paddy, a water-driven cash crop, in April. The advice was given with the view that Kashmir receives less rainfall in May, June and July. However nature proved history incorrect this time.
Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Mir Mohammad Shahnawaz told Kashmir Reader that the drought situation still persists because paddy requires huge water for a long period of time and the new accumulated water can only sustain for a few weeks.
“It may be temporary relief but not permanent,” said Mir. “Look, the water mostly required for paddy comes through canals which are snow fed. This year, there was less snowfall and the canals hence go dry during sunny days.”
“The recent rainfall is a blessing in disguise but temporary. We need to wait for the coming weeks, and if there is a more rainfall like this some time, than the drought situation will be called off,” he added.
As an alternative in this situation, the government had asked farmers to replace paddy with a new crop that needs less water. The replacement of paddy was going to be a big challenge for the government because Kashmiri farmland provides 76 percent of the rice consumed here. Drought conditions may force the state government to import additional rice. The Agriculture Department is preparing a contingency plan to mitigate the crisis.
An official in the Agriculture Department told Kashmir Reader that the rainfall will mitigate the losses suffered by the farmer due to the replacement crop because the rains will allow many areas to grow paddy now.
“It will not have the same effect now that was prevalent in April, but the crisis is not over,” he added.
The drought could have been an onslaught on paddy whose production was kept high despite the shrinkage of agricultural land. Scientists of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in collaboration with the Agricultural Department sustained a growth of seven percent in food grain production against a loss of more than 13 percent of agricultural land over the last 70 years.