UDHAMPUR, Sept 10: Over 80 dry and fresh fruit crops have been damaged due to heavy rain and snowfall in Panchari-Landhar and Latti-Dudu-Chenani area of Udhampur district, inflicting heavy losses on orchardists who are now hoping for a financial package and facility of cold store, agricultural snow protector net.
Dry fruit and fresh fruit is a source of livelihood for thousands of families in Jammu and Kashmir, including remote and picturesque area of Panchari, Latti and Dudu-Chenani in Udhampur district but growers associated with this sector are facing losses due to low crop this year as well as sharp slump in prices owing to COVID-19 pandemic as no buyer is reaching to the growers.
Parbhat Singh, Sandokh Raj, Des Raj, Bhim Singh, Girdhari Lal farmers from Meer and Kanth Gali and Panchari area said that fresh fruits have been totally damaged this year.
The best crop is the apple along with apricot, pear and plums but due to heavy rain over 80 percent of the crop has been badly damaged. Walnuts production is hardly 20 to 25 percent this year.
“We produce good quality walnuts which would be sold at more than Rs 200-250 per kilogram during the corresponding period last year, now we have no buyers that’s why we demand from the Government to give us the facility of cold store as given to the farmers of Kashmir and agricultural snow protector net,” they said.
Further, the farmers have no facilities to sell their production due to no local Mandis and are forced to sell their product locally with very minimal rates. “If the market continued to remain sluggish, the growers would face mounting losses,” one of the villagers said.
“This year’s crop of walnuts, apples and other fruits was damaged due to hailstorm and other crops such as maize is damaged due to lack of rain and we only have 15 to 20 percent crop production this year,” he added.
“Most of the farmers have taken KCC loans and we urge the Government to waive off our loans, ‘’ pleaded the farmers.
Horticulture technician Sanjeev Singh said, “two year ago farmers earned well due to bumper crop production, in association with the Horticulture Department but this year crop is 80 percent less due to unprecedented weather conditions.