The Biz Reporter
Srinagar, October 16: The Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, Srinagar, representing various Fruit Growers’ Associations, issued an urgent appeal on the evening of October 15, following a catastrophic hailstorm that wreaked havoc on orchards in Shopian, Kulgam, Bandipora, and other districts. The union reported that fruit orchards and their owners in these areas have suffered irreparable losses due to the unexpected and intense hailstorm.
The hailstorm was accompanied by unusual heavy snowfall for the month of October and lightning that persisted for several minutes, leaving a thick layer of white in the orchards. This unexpected calamity comes as apple harvest season was underway in these districts. Due to the delay in picking the apples and the subsequent hailstorm, orchard owners now face the loss of their entire year’s earnings, causing significant distress to those associated with the fruit industry.
The fruit industry is a cornerstone of Kashmir’s economy, and damage to this sector has far-reaching implications for the region’s economic stability. The Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union has long been appealing to the government to include Kashmir’s horticulture sector under the Crop Insurance Scheme, but despite prior announcements, the scheme has not been implemented in the region.
The union emphasised that around 90% of people in the Kashmir Valley are marginal growers whose livelihoods depend solely on the income from their orchards. When natural calamities strike and destroy their gardens, these growers face immense difficulties. The previous year witnessed substantial losses for fruit growers, and many of them are burdened with debt they are unable to repay.
In light of these challenges, the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union made the following appeals to the administration:
Urgently dispatch officers from the Agriculture University (SKAUST) Shalimar and members of the Department of Horticulture Development Kashmir to assess the damages caused by the recent hailstorm in all affected orchards.
Requested the immediate implementation of the Crop Insurance Scheme to provide relief in the event of natural disasters.
Called for the announcement of a comprehensive relief package to aid fruit growers affected by the heavy hailstorm, declared as a natural calamity.
The union hopes that the government will swiftly consider their appeals and take practical measures to protect the horticulture sector from further damage, ensuring the livelihoods of countless individuals dependent on the fruit industry in the region.