Unfavourable weather likely to hit agriculture in Valley

SRINAGAR: Unseasonal rain and drastic dip in temperature since March has increased the worries of the farmer community in the Valley as the current climatic condition is likely to affect the yield this year.

Rifat Mohidin

Srinagar, May 6

Unseasonal rain and drastic dip in temperature since March has increased the worries of the farmer community in the Valley as the current climatic condition is likely to affect the yield this year.

Around 70 per cent of the Valley’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

Experts from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had earlier said climate change has already taken place and according to the latest Economic Survey Report it is likely to affect agriculture in the state.

Out of total 8.26 lakh hectare agricultural land in Kashmir, horticulture comprises 3.5 lakh hectares.

The latest worry for the farmers, however, is the waterlogging in the fields which has caused damage to the seeds.

“The crop planted in the first week of April is under water as the land is not able to absorb it due to already high water table. We are not even able to drain out the water from the fields. The excessive rain and waterlogging has damaged plants and I won’t be surprised if the production will be reduced by 20 per cent keeping in view the prevailing conditions,” said Fayaz Ahmad, a grower from the Bogam area of Central Kashmir.

The cold weather has also affected the pollination of stone fruits like apples and pears.

“Temperature should be high for pollination. Unfortunately, the dip in temperature has affected the flowering of fruit bearing plants, putting us in trouble. This year the expected production is very less. This is the time when we need sunshine instead of rain,” said Abdul Rasheed, a farmer from Wurchursa, Pulwama.

The agriculture and horticulture production in Kashmir was badly hit by the devastating floods in September 2014. It not only washed away the agriculture produce, but also created multiple problems for farmers in cultivating their land.

“The current unfavourable climate is regarded as a major weakness in the horticulture sector,” said a farmer.

The overall fruit production for the year 2014-15 was estimated at 13.45 lakh metric tons as there had been some loss to the horticulture crop due to low temperature caused by unexpected rain.

“Nearly 6.48 lakh hectare of agricultural and horticultural land was affected (by the floods),”read the CSE report, adding that the loss was to the tune of Rs 5,611.65 crore.

Agriculture and horticulture plays an important role in J&K’s economy with more than 70 per cent population directly or indirectly getting their livelihood from the two sectors.

Director, Agriculture, Kashmir, Jitendra Kumar Sharma admitted that unexpected rain would have an impact on the production. “The change in temperature and rain is likely to have an impact on agriculture,” Sharma said.

The September deluge last year, as per the CSE report, had reduced food grain production in the state to 17.42 lakh metric ton in 2014-15 against 20.65 lakh metric ton during 2013-14.

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