Shopian: The government’s claims of having stopped the sale of spurious fungicides and pesticides in Kashmir sound like a pack of lies as every second day brings reports, from different parts of the valley, of damage caused to fruit orchards due to these spurious or substandard products.
Recently, photographs of damaged leaves in a big apple orchard were shared on social media which showed scalded leaves and fallen fruit in the orchard. Locals from the Shopian village, where this orchard is located, said that this year’s apple crop has been ruined by spurious fungicides and the damage is such that there will be no fruit even next year in the orchards.
Locals said that the orchardist whose misery was seen on social media had sprayed a fungicide which was neither recommended by the SKAUST agricultural university nor was in the spray schedule issued by the horticulture department.
How, then, did the fungicide reach the market, locals asked.
Javid Ahmad, a resident of Zainpora, said that officials and pesticide sellers collude to earn as much as they can from substandard and spurious products. “Fungicides which are not tested or are not recommended should not be allowed to enter Kashmir at all, as orchardists here are not that educated to know which fungicides are spurious and which are for trial purposes,” Ahmad said.
There are also a number of pesticide sellers in Kashmir who have become self-styled experts and recommend sprays as per their opinions, but at the cost of livelihood of poor farmers.
Reports of damage caused in orchards due to substandard sprays have also been shared from parts of central and north Kashmir.
Director Horticulture Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, recently visited some orchards and ordered that the sale of untested sprays be stopped, but that has clearly not been enough.
Bhat didn’t to respond to phone calls when this reporter tried to contact him for his comments on this persistent issue that has become the bane of fruit growers in the valley, particularly in the last two years.