Mandi, March 27
Apple orchardists of Kullu district are facing the brunt of weather vagaries for the past few days. A heavy hailstorm and fresh snowfall in the Anni and Nirmand blocks of the district yesterday caused huge losses to farmers.
As per sources in the Horticulture Department, the hailstorm and snowfall have caused an estimated loss of Rs 1 crore to apple orchardists in the Anni and Nirmand areas. To save the apple crop from damage by hailstorm, the orchardists had covered their orchards with anti-hail nets earlier this year, which became the main reason for the loss.
The anti-hail nets on apple trees couldn’t bear the burden of the hailstorm and snow. As a result, it pressed down the branches of apple trees, breaking them.
Santosh Thakur, an apple orchardist of Anni, said the hailstorm and the snowfall had caused considerable damage to apple orchards at Takrasi, Parked, Chaukri, Tharvi and a few other villages in the region.
Similarly, in the Nirmand area, the apple orchardists of Sagofa, Juagi, Tinger and Baga-Sarahan were affected.
In a joint statement, affected apple orchardists — Sher Singh, Santosh Thakur, Leela Prasad — said, “The nature has brought disaster for us. Apple cultivation is our sole source of livelihood. These days, apple orchards are in the pink bud stage and we were expecting a good crop this year to sustain our economy. But our expectations have been dashed after a considerable damage was caused to our orchards.”
They added, “We urge the state government to provide a financial aid to the affected farmers of the region to help them cope with the situation.”
Utam Prashar, subject specialist of the Horticulture Department at Nirmand, said, “Around 100 farmers of Anni and Nirmand were affected by the hailstorm and the snowfall. The department has assessed losses amounting to Rs 1 crore.”
He said the department was providing necessary pesticides to the affected farmers on subsidised rates to heal the wounds of apple plants. “A detailed report will be sent to the state government about the calculated losses incurred by the farmers,” Prashar added.
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