Save the horticulture sector
The untimely snowfall across Kashmir valley has put several question marks on the functioning of the government and its capability to plan things well in advance. The situation turned chaotic across the valley owing to failure of the administration to deliver or make available the services that a commoner expected from the government.
With the power sector proving to be a biggest failure yet again, other crucial services also remained defunct exposing the hallow claims of the administration presently headed by the Governor.
What has come as a rude shock owing to the ill-timed snowfall is the loss that it has caused to the horticulture sector. The snowfall caused extensive damage to orchards across Kashmir. Thousands of growers and orchard owners across Kashmir have complained that they have suffered huge losses to their orchards and fruit.
The snowfall has left thousands of apple growers in north Kashmir distressed as thousands of fruit trees have been damaged. In south Kashmir the situation in no different.
In Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama districts, the snowfall has caused huge damage to apple orchards, besides the fruit as well.
These areas have borne the brunt of the losses as these areas harvest the apple crop quite late as the crop is fully ripened in the month of November only. Some apple varieties were yet to be harvested. The snowfall damaged large number of apple trees in almost entire southern Kashmir.
What has caused more distress among the apple growers is the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar National highway which has led to a halt in the movement of some six thousand odd fruit laden trucks that had to deliver the apple crop in Delhi.
The stranded trucks on the highway may cause rotting of apple, with the result the growers will suffer massive losses. The rush to send apple laden trucks had started from the first week of November as Deewali festival is being observed on Nov 7.
Usually Delhi market remains the main focus of the fruit traders and they try to send apple crop to Delhi by Nov 4. However, due to bad weather all the fruit laden trucks are stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu highway and this has added to the woes of the apple growers.
The sudden snowfall has inflicted losses worth crores of rupees on the growers as the apple fruit was yet to be harvested and the harvested crop in most of the cases is laden in trucks and is stranded on the highway.
The growers say that around 5000 trucks carrying fruit were stranded at different spots and the government is presently according priority on the movement of Durbar vehicles.
If going by the preliminary reports the apple trade has suffered losses over Rs 500 crore, besides an irreparable damage to trees, plantations and orchards. This patter is rep[eating every year and the government has been quite slack on this crucial issue.
Even as of now the crop insurance cover is being deprived to the horticulturists and no mechanism is evolved to ensure a hassle free movement of fruit laden trucks to various cities after the crop is harvested. Horticulture over the years has emerged as a backbone of our economy and this cannot be ignored.