50% apple orchards sans irrigation facilities in Pulwama

Suhail Bhat
PULWAMA, Aug 1: Over 50 percent of the apple orchards in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district lack irrigation facilities affecting the quality and production of the crop.
Officials at the Department of Horticulture said that the deficiency of irrigation facilities was taking a heavy toll on the crop yield. “Lack of irrigation impacts both quality and quantity of crop. Besides, the crop also fails to attain full size,” Chief Horticulture office Pulwama, Rakesh Kotwal, said, adding they have provided nearly forty bore wells in the un-irrigated areas and received good results.
He, however, admitted that nearly 50 percent of the orchards were yet to be provided irrigation facilities. “Nearly all the orchards in Tral, Pampore, Litter  and Rajpora lacked irrigation facilities and that hinder orchardists from timely irrigating their filed,” he added.
With more land being converted into apple orchards, there has been an increase in the apple production for last few years in the district. As per the figures of Horticulture department, the area under crop yield went from 12, 389 hectares in 2014 to 17, 072 hectares in 2018, subsequently increasing the production from 85, 095 metric tons (MTs) to 1,49,678.6 MTs.  However, full potential of the area has not been explored owing to the dearth of irrigation facilities, experts believed.
The orchardists accused Government of overlooking their demands of proper irrigation facilities. They said they have been asking the Government for the irrigation facilities to their apple orchards so that apple production enhances in the area but authorities failed to act.  “We have been demanding irrigation facilities to our orchards for a long time but authorities are yet to react,” Abdul Rahman, an orchardist, said.
Several irrigation facilities that were initiated by the Government have either been dented by the scarcity of funds or an alleged callous approach of administration towards them.
Wasoora Irrigation scheme which caters to Wasoora, Payer, Zakoora and other places is lying defunct and people allege Government of showing the indifferent attitude towards them.
The orchardists said lack of irrigation facilities on Chandgam and Tahab Karewa land is badly affecting their apple crop. Besides, they said, the lift irrigation along with the Dogripora canal need to be improved. The irrigation canal at Puchal village is also incomplete, locals complained.
“The irrigation will enable us to induce mixed crop culture in the area which will help in fetching money from other crops and can revolutionize vegetable cultivation,” an orchardist said, adding: “The crop in Pulwama is ready by the first week of September. At that point in time, there is no competition and the fruit fetches more money.”
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, told Excelsior that a detailed project report regarding the irrigation facilities of some areas has already been sent to the government for approval. “In order to provide irrigation facilities to the Chandgam and Tahab Karewans a DPR worth Rs. 22 crores have been forwarded for approval. Once approved the project would mitigate the irrigation problems in the area”, he said.