J&K Parties Demand Support as Hailstorm Destroys Apple Orchards
Several J&K apple farmers had invested all their savings in the orchards.
Srinagar: The JKNC has called out the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration for the “lack of support” to the region’s farmers amid rising challenges caused by climate change.
In a statement, JKNC senior leaders Sakina Ittoo, member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi and the party’s agriculture committee chairman Javed Dar said that an recent hailstorm has damaged hundreds of apple orchards in Kulgam and Shopian.
The two south Kashmir districts and Behibagh, Kaprin, and Kanjiullar villages were hit by heavy hailstorm a few days ago causing significant damage to the apple orchards during peak harvest.
Bashir Ahmad Bashir, president of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Dealer’s Association and New Kashmir Fruit Association, said that hailstorm will likely have the worst impact on the crop.
“It is rare and will have a devastating impact on the livelihood of thousands of farmers and their families. We urged the administration last year to introduce safeguards or schemes that could have helped farmers this time,” he told Newsclick.
The scale of the damage is yet to be ascertained fully, according to the farmers body.
“Our fruit growers have been facing increasingly challenging times in recent years with lockdowns and natural disasters taking a toll on their livelihoods. Once again, nature’s destructive forces have severely damaged the nearly ripe produce. Several farmers had invested all their savings in the orchards,” the JKNC statement read.
The party leaders expressed “disappointment” with the administration saying it has left people at the “mercy of fate”. The party urged the lieutenant governor to provide adequate compensation to affected fruit growers to help them recover their losses and also immediately implement the Crop Insurance Scheme.
The party also demanded “a special exemption for small farmers whose harvest typically doesn’t exceed 100 apple crates”.
The JKNC statement comes after senior CPI(M) leader MY Tarigami highlighted the plight of farmers, He termed it “concerning” that the government has not accepted the demand of Apple Farmers’ Federation of India for implementing a comprehensive crop insurance scheme.
“It is crucial for authorities to assess the damage and provide adequate compensation to the affected farmers. We strongly emphasise the need for implementing such a scheme to safeguard the livelihood of farmers,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Traders and farmers have been expressing serious concerns over the state of apple produce in the region, where the horticulture sector is considered as the economic backbone.
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