SHOPIAN: The Horticulture department has again imported large quantities of M9 apple root stocks in late season, even as very few plants imported last year survived, because of delay in arrival and plantation.
Only about 3600 plants from a stock of 1,25,000 imported last year survived, as the plants are recommended to be planted before March 21.
Despite the bad experience, the department imported 60000 plants this year, which reached the destination farm at Zainpora after the recommended deadline of March 21.
An field employee at the Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development Zainpora (ACHD) told Kashmir Reader that late arrival of root stock increases their mortality rate while the government “then blames the gardeners for damages”.
“There are recommendations that these plants shall not be planted after March 21 but we received them a couple of days ago,” an official at the farm said.
The stocks are to the planted at the farm for research and quarantine before they are sent for distribution to orchardists.
Technicians at the farm said apart from late plantation, inadequate irrigation facilities were responsible for the mortalities.
“The root stock is totally dependent on irrigation but we lack proper irrigation facilities, which in turn leads to rise in mortality rates of plants,” another official said.
“We have worst example of last year as among 125000 plants only 3600 survived which is around three per cent.”
The large scale mortalities of the root stock result in huge wastage of money.
“One imported M9 plant costs Rs 100 and for 121040 plants the losses were Rs 1.20 crore,” one of the officials said.
Horticulture Development Officer of Zainpora farm, Mushtaq Ahmad admitted the mortality of 120000 plants last year but hoped that a repeat won’t happen this year.
“The late arrival was not the only reason, those plants were placed in cold chains for long period. This year the plants are in dormancy and have very less chances of mortalities,” he said, but conceded that irrigation problem were a reality, and that it was a tiresome work to irrigate plants manually.
Director Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that he has told the Zainpora farm manager to dig another bore well for facilitating irrigation.
Asked why plants were imported late, he said it takes time to clear all formalities.
On lack of adequate staff, Aijaz said that the department faces dearth of staff throughout valley and the directorate had written to Service Selection Board and Public Service Commission for filling the vacant posts in the department.
“Hope they will do it soon.”