Early on snow fall and losses suffered

Snow fall is critical to agriculture sector, an important part of Earth’s climate system as it helps regulate the temperature of the Earth’s surface .Once snow accumulated starts melting , the water helps filling rivers and reservoirs. Snow provides soil moisture for the crops to grow .Even late spring’s snowfall is often called as “poor man’s fertilizer” as snow contains trace amounts of nitrogen which acts as fertilizer for the next crop.
Having enumerated the tremendous benefits of snow, it can wreck havoc and disaster too if it is early on or quite late. Our state of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kashmir and Ladakh divisions are having plenty of snowfalls and even hilly and mountainous parts of Jammu region get snow. This year, nature’s otherwise boon turned into a fury and a curse as it snowed quite prematurely, at least by more than a month in Kashmir valley . Agricultural sector, particularly the horticulture became victim of the early snowfall, the first of this year when winter season had not even set in. There are reports that apples crop in the process of harvesting as well as harvested and lying in open spaces for boxing and marketing purposes was worst hit. Shopian, Sopore, Anantnag and other areas where apples grow in different varieties suffered damages .
Assessing the damages caused , Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has urged the central government to depute a team to Jammu and Kashmir to assess on the spot the damages and losses to agriculture and horticulture sectors on account of the recent ill-timed snowfall in the state. Assessments of different hues and extent in terms of losses suffered are varying for different causes and reasons which, therefore, calls for the requirement of a team to be deputed by the Central government to arrive at the tentative but realistic extent of damages suffered by the farmers, cultivators and orchardists. The CS , in a communication addressed to the Union Secretary , Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has clarified about the extent of damage being enormous and that the state government needed the assistance from the central government so that relief could be provided to the affected farmers.
The loss suffered, as per the assessment made by the field agencies of the government, are estimated to be around Rs.500 crore as 53000 hectares of horticulture and 9000 hectares of agricultural crops have been partially or severely damaged. State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) guidelines are not exhaustive so as to provide relief to the affected farmers commensurate with the losses suffered and looking to the extent of damages and the meagre amount of relief under SDRF rules, they must get reasonably adequate relief. Apple trees , apple crop, apples under packaging and saffron crop have suffered damages on account of the unexpected snowfall on November3.
We urge the authorities to take stock of the situation , arrange to assess the losses and start thereafter the process of providing monetary relief to the affected farmers and orchardists commensurate with the extent of losses suffered by them. Also the provision of insurance cover against such natural fury can be mooted out to take care of the nature of such losses in future which can be an added reassuring measure in favour of the agriculture and horticulture sectors.