Bumper rice crop in Kashmir after official warning of drought

Bumper rice crop in Kashmir after official warning of drought
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SRINAGAR: Nature has proven wrong the government advisory that Kashmir Valley was going to witness a drought this season. With the harvesting season of Kashmir’s principal crop, rice, having begun, farmers are speaking of a “bumper crop”. The state’s top agriculture official also concurs, saying the produce will break records of the past.
Director Agriculture Syed Altaf Andrabi told Kashmir Reader that the Valley will have a bumper harvest of rice this season. He said there is not a single instance of drought anywhere in the fields.
“There is none above the creator of this world, who plans and disposes what humans decide. This harvest is an example of that. We will see the best harvest this year,” Altaf said.
Earlier this year, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department had issued drought advisories to farmers in both north and south Kashmir. Its Chief Engineer, Shahnawaz, had told Kashmir Reader that farmers who cultivate rice on Abi Doam and Soam lands in south Kashmir had been advised to not cultivate rice but some other crop. The same advisory was issued to farmers in some Abi Awal areas in north Kashmir.
Abi Awal is a classification by the revenue department to denote the main paddy land in the Valley. Abi Doom is the paddy land that receives less water compared to Abi Awal and Abi Soam is paddy land that receives less water than Abi Doom. This classification exists because paddy fields are spread on different heights and distances to water sources.
“We had issued an advisory based on the precipitation received from November 2017 to March 2018. It was 53 percent low compared to what it is expected to be. But, fortunately, nature has proved us wrong,” Shahnawaz said.
Shahnawaz said that drought was averted by huge doses of rainfall the Valley received during the summer in different instalments.
Altaf said he had advised against the advisory because Kashmir has been witness to less rainfall in winters many times, only to receive plenty during summer.
These different positions of two government departments had put farmers in a quandary whether to cultivate rice or not. The farmers decided to go against the advisory.
Abdul Ahad, a farmer form south Kashmir, told Kashmir Reader that he chose to cultivate rice because he was familiar with weather patterns in the past, which had never led to a drought in Kashmir.
“I also put trust in Allah, and he does not betray it,” he added.
A drought in Kashmir, which is an agrarian economy, would have been a huge crisis. The government would have had to import additional food supplies which could have been more than the 24 percent of rice deficit that Kashmir faces at present. Farmers could have been the main sufferers.