SHOPIA: A silver lining in all the heavy snowfall that south Kashmir has seen in recent days is the cheer it has brought to farmers, apple growers, and orchardists. They as well as horticulture experts say that good snowfall in winter guarantees a good crop in the year ahead, ensuring plentiful water for irrigation of orchards and paddy fields in seasons of summer and autumn.
Majority of areas in south Kashmir have received two to four feet of snow in the past three days. Locals in Anantnag said that despite the chilling long winter this year, the district had received comparatively less snowfall than usual, until the recent spell which saw snow accumulating up to two feet.
In Kulgam’s DH Pora, local resident Bashir Ahmad Sheikh said that the latest snowfall was the heaviest in many years. He said people in Kulgam, despite facing many problems due to the inclement weather, were happy.
“Orchards are the sole means of our livelihood and the problems we face due to snowfall can be discounted when we consider prospects of a good crop ahead,” he said.
According to horticulture experts, plentiful snow not only maintains the water table but also leads to timely sprouting of trees, raising not just the yield but also the quality of fruits.
Residents of Pulwama’s Kakpora belt said they were happy as farmers last year had not been able to sow paddy due to shortage of water, a result of less snow in winter.
“We hope this year we would be able to sow paddy as there has been sufficient snowfall,” said Liyakat Ahmad Lone, a farmer in Kakpora.
Snow deposited at higher altitudes melts in summer to provide a constant and sufficient supply of water for irrigation purposes. According to weather experts, the higher altitudes last year witnessed very less snowfall, which led to shortage of irrigation water. The experts said that this year’s snowfall will prove beneficial for both agriculture and horticulture. There will also be sufficient drinking water round the year, they said.
The heavy snowfall this week has caused some damage to apple orchards but it is nowhere as much as that caused by the unseasonal snowfall on November 3 last year. Lakhs of apple trees were damaged by that snowfall, especially in south Kashmir, inflicting heavy losses on fruit growers and traders. The government provided orchardists some compensation but it was so low that people complained it was not even enough to buy the ropes used to bind damaged branches of trees.
Horticulture scientists say that snow also keeps diseases at bay from orchards. They advised orchardists to drain out accumulated water from orchards and fields to prevent excess absorption in soil.