Mir Zeeshan

Fruit growers in south Kashmir throng hardware shops for buying iron bolts

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Repairing snow-damaged apple trees

Pulwama, Nov 06: The untimely snowfall this month proved catastrophic for the apple growers in the Kashmir valley as there is rarely any orchard in the valley where apple trees have not suffered damage in the form of broken branches and damaged trunks.

There are several areas in south Kashmir where apple picking was not over yet due to which the trees in such areas were uprooted due to snow load.

Some of the growers in south Kashmir have started fixing the broken trees and branches of apple trees by bolting and tying ropes to the damaged parts and some have chosen wooden support for the uprooted trees. Many growers have also uploaded videos on their Facebook profiles which show the farmers bolting and roping broken trees and branches.

Meanwhile, fruit growers in Pulwama were seen thronging the hardware shops since last two days for purchasing iron bolts of different sizes.

Muhammad Ashraf one of the hardware sellers in Pulwama town said, “I have sold around nine quintals of bolts from last two days and the quantity is expected to increase further in coming days.”

Another hardware seller in Pulwama said, “Three persons are working at my hardware shop and we are still unable to handle rush of customers who visit our shop to buy iron bolts.”

Pertinently, in the aftermath of snowfall on 3rd November, the Horticulture department issued advisory for apple growers in the Kashmir valley.

The advisory said: “To slowly pull back the trees to the original position after heavy pruning and provide proper support/staking to the main trunk to prevent further fall/ movement, if the trees are partially uprooted.”

“If the top portion of the tree is broken, slantingly cut the damaged branch 2-3 inches below the broken point and apply Bordeaux /Chaubatia paste on the cut surface,” it added.

According to the survey conducted by Horticulture department, the most affected areas due to sudden snowfall in south Kashmir were Herpora, Keller belts of Shopian district, Rajpora belt of Pulwama district and other areas including Newa, Tahab, Payar, Muchpuna of Pulwama district and Trakawangum, Imam Sahab, Pinjura, Sedow areas of Shopian district.

An apple grower in Muchpuna village of Pulwama said, “We have almost lost all the apple trees to the devastating snowfall in one of the orchards stretched over 5 kanals of land.  The trees were about twenty years old.”

Another grower, Nazir Ahmad, in Trichal village said that untimely snowfall has left us devastated as majority of the population in our village rely on fruit business for making their ends meet. Government should compensate the growers as most of them had availed (Kisan Credit Card) scheme and after facing huge losses it will be hard for them to repay the debts.”

Muzafar Ahmad Bhat of Heerpora village in Shopian district said that almost eighty percent of orchards have faced damage in their area. “Government should immediately assess the losses and compensate the fruit growers,” he said.

Bashir Ahmad Malik of Loswaden village in Shopian district said: “Fruit business is the backbone of economy in Shopian district. Our area was worst hit by the sudden snowfall. We appeal to the Governor Malik to kindly compensate the growers here.”

When contacted Chief Horticulture Officer, Pulwama district Rajesh Kotwal, said: “We are assessing the damage jointly with revenue department and within coming days we will come up with exact figures of the loss and surely growers will be compensated for losses.”

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