KV Correspondent

Two killed as rains, thunderstorms wreak havoc in Valley parts

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Farmers, horticulturists express concern over changing weather patterns

Srinagar: Two persons, including an 18-year-old woman, were killed due to lightning and rains in separate incidents in Bandipora and Ganderbal districts of Kashmir valley on Monday afternoon, officials said here.
They said that Fatima Bano (18), a resident of Najan village in Sumbal area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora died when she was struck by lightning outside her house, an official added.
Another person identified as Mohammad Yousuf Mir, a resident of Bakura area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal was struck by lightning while he was working in his field, an official said, adding that he died on the spot.
Meanwhile, most parts of Kashmir Valley witnessed a heavy downpour accompanied by hailstorm as the temperature also plummeted bringing the chill back during peak summer season.
With severe rainfall being recorded in June bringing down the temperatures as well, the unusual weather pattern is turning into a cause of concern for the farmers and fruit growers.
Farmers are already feeling the heat due to unusual weather.
“Our apple crop is almost 50 percent damaged while other fruits and vegetables have been completely wiped off as rains and hailstorm lashed Kashmir right from the period of flowering,” Kursheed Ahmad, a farmer from North Kashmir said.
“Secondly, the plunging temperature and wet weather makes our fruit plants susceptible to diseases like scab and we have to spend extra amount to spray them with fungicides and insecticides more frequently. For 50 percent less crop we have to spend 200 percent more,” he added.
Officials at Horticulture department also present a gloomy picture saying that the changing weather pattern is a cause for concern among all.
“We won’t say fruits and vegetables are completely destroyed, but it has been hit badly,” one of the officials said.
“On one hand we are assessing the damage and on the other trying to help farmers by expert counseling and compensation,” he added.
Notably, the months of May and June are crucial for paddy cultivation in Kashmir since rice saplings are transplanted from nurseries to the fields.
However, frequent rain has not only affected the sowing season but also hampered the normal growth of saplings in the nurseries.
“Our fodder crop did not grow to the right height this spring. Now, frequent rains are affecting rice sowing as well, even as chilly weather caused stunted growth of the saplings in the nurseries,” said a visibly worried Javaid Ahmad, a farmer hailing from north Kashmir.
Fruit growers too are worried about the increased moisture in their orchards, which acts as a catalyst for fungal and parasitic diseases in trees, besides causing an explosion in pests’ numbers.
“Fungal diseases explode in orchards in wet weather conditions since moisture remains on leaves and trunks of apple trees for longer periods,” said one of the officials working at the agricultural university.
“Pests like hairy caterpillar – also called gypsy moth – grow better in rainy conditions. These pests devour leaves and other fleshy parts of the tree, destroying both the fruit and the plant,” he added.
What is adding to the growing worries of farmers and fruit growers alike is the fact that local weather forecasts do not hold good news for them in near future as well.

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