Guwahati: It is the first snowfall of November in Kashmir since 2009 that took place on Saturday and caused a major damage to the mainstay of the Valley economy – especially to horticulture.
Giving a detailed account of the losses the snowfall caused to apple orchards, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, the All Valley Fruit Growers Association chairman said that almost 20% of the apple crop may have been damaged in South Kashmir alone and the estimated loss for the snowfall is around Rs 1,000 crore.
The damages of the snowfall are still being assessed by state horticulture director Manzoor Qadri. However, the minister has laid stress on the fact that the damages caused are “heavy damages”, especially to the fruit growers.
The snowfall plunged Kashmir into darkness and blocked the lifeline Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The snowfall even disrupted air traffic beyond damaging apple orchards. Reportedly, around 2.5 million people in Kashmir are directly or indirectly dependent on the apple orchards. The apple orchards give an annual turnover of Rs 5,000 to 6,000 crore.
Orchardist Ghulam Nabi Dar, 65, terms the snowfall “a catastrophe” and adds, “…my earning will come down to mere 20 to 30%. I do not know how my family will survive as the apple orchard is my only livelihood. A tree takes two decades to mature and the snowfall has ruined our hard work of years.’’
Another orchardist, Dar’s neighbour, Khurshid Ahmad, said that he has lost at least 25 apple trees and the turnover he would receive from these apple trees would have been around 1 lakh.
Ahmad said, “I have a loan of Rs 2 lakh and I was planning to repay it within the next two-three years. I do not know what I will do now.’’
A North Kashmir orchardist in Kupwara Farooq Ahmad Malik said that he lost 250 boxes of apples. He said, “I had delayed harvest due to Diwali as it fetches good rates during the festival season. Unfortunately, I lost all the harvest, which is now under snow.”
The thing is that almost 20% of the apple crop was yet to be plucked and it all got damaged in Kashmir snowfall.
Bashir Ahmad Bhat states, “We have lost hundreds of apple-bearing trees.’’