Shopian: With the government issuing forecast of heavy rain and snowfall between 23 and 25 October, apple growers in Shopian are stuck between the choice of apple picking and the official advisory on how to save trees and fruit from damage.
With migrant labourers leaving Kashmir, apple growers are feeling their absence much more.
Orchardists say that it is impossible to pick apples and do pruning of apple trees simultaneously. Ishtiaq Ahmad, an orchardist from Kutpora Shopian, who has hired seven men for apple picking, said that he wouldn’t be able to pluck all of his apples till the 23rd and it would be impossible for him to do pruning during the same time.
In many of Shopian areas, particularly the upper belts, over 30-40 percent of apple is yet to be plucked and there isn’t any instance where fruit growers have started pruning in fruit trees.
For a couple of days now, more people are storing their fruit in cold storage units due to the weather department’s forecast of heavy rain and snowfall.
After several attacks on non-local migrant labourers, most of them have left the valley for their homes, which has led to a lack of labourers for apple picking.
“These labourers were playing a vital role to conclude the harvesting on time but unfortunately after the recent attacks, most of them left their work. Now we are helpless to do anything amid the prediction of heavy rain and snowfall from 23rd of this month,” said Aqib Akber, an orchardist in Pinjora area of Shopian.
Muhammad Yasin Dar, an orchardist having over 20 kanals of land, said that the only thing fruit growers can do is pray to Allah to avert any such snowfall. “I think snowfall at this time, even if it is light, would bring havoc upon fruit trees. Leaves are as green as in June and plenty of fruit is yet to be plucked. At most of the places people have put the fruit on the ground in orchards, so prayers are the only way to save us,” he said.
Director General of Horticulture in Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, in an advisory said that orchardists are advised to conclude the apple plucking before 23rd and make proper arrangements of drainage and support to trees.
He further said that people should also start pruning simultaneously with the apple picking.
Faizan Arif, an independent weatherman, said that there are 20 to 25 percent chances of snowfall in Shopian areas.
The J&K meteorological department on Tuesday said that Kashmir will witness heavy rainfall and moderate snowfall in many of its areas. It said that the snowfall may result in damage of fruit trees and road and air connectivity could also get affected.