SRINAGAR Mar 30: Inadequate irrigation facilities are affecting the quality and yield of apple crop in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, with nearly half of the orchards still lack adequate irrigation.
Horticulture Department officials claim that lack of irrigation facilities is preventing them from fully utilizing the region’s horticulture potential and contributing to the district’s socio-economic development.
“The district lacks a reliable irrigation system, especially between March and September when the crop requires more water. Some growers, on the other hand, have dug their own bore wells, which has proven to be extremely beneficial,” Mukaish Sharma, Chief Horticulture Officer of Pulwama, told Excelsior.
The district’s apple production has increased in recent years as more land has been converted to apple cultivation, but Sharma believes that the area’s full potential is yet to be realized due to a lack of irrigation facilities.
He said that land under apple cover is around 15, 800 hectares, with an annual production of around 1.73 million metric tonnes. “We have also identified around 5000 kanals of land in the district for high-density apple orchards. We already have around 3000 kanals of high-density apple orchards in the district,” he said, adding that the district has around 26000 hectares of land dedicated to fruit production, including walnut, cherry, apricot, apple, and other fruits.
The orchardists accused the government of ignoring their demands for adequate irrigation. They claimed that they had asked the Government for irrigation facilities for their apple crop in order to increase apple production in the area, but authorities had failed to act. “We have been requesting irrigation for our orchards for a long time, but the authorities are yet to respond,” said Abdul Rahman, an orchardist.
Several government-funded irrigation projects have been thwarted due to a lack of funds or an alleged callous attitude on the part of the administration. For example, the Wasoora Irrigation Scheme, which serves Wasoora, Payer, Chakoora, and other areas, is no longer operational, and residents accuse the government of being uninterested in their plight.
According to the orchardists irrigation facilities are inadequate at Chandgam and Tahab Karewa, which is impacting their apple crop. Furthermore, they said that the lift irrigation, as well as the Dogripora canal, must be improved.
Assistant Executive Engineer, Pulwama, Asim Ahmad, told Excelsior that the irrigation scheme for the Tahab Chandigam areas has been completed and will be operational this month. “This will help us irrigate a large area and benefit hundreds of farmers who have planted apple trees in these areas,” he said, adding that work on the Wasoora Irrigation Scheme is also underway.