Snow brings relief to farmers in Kashmir

Suhail Bhat

Srinagar, Feb 1: Farmers in Kashmir can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the prolonged dry spell ended with the season’s first snowfall, promising optimal moisture and temperature for crop growth.
This year, the Valley experienced one of the most severe dry winter spells in decades, attributed to the influence of weak western disturbances. The traditionally harsh 40-day winter period, locally referred to as Chilai Kalan, concluded on January 29th without any precipitation, in stark contrast to previous years.
Last December saw a 79% deficit in snowfall, followed by a 100% deficit in January this year, heightening concerns over water resources. This scarcity was particularly alarming for apple farmers, who feared its impact on the crucial water availability needed for the growth and productivity of their orchards.
Bilal Ahmad, an apple grower from Rafiabad, echoed the collective sentiment. “People were concerned about the lack of snowfall, and prayers have been answered. This will breathe new life into the horticulture and agriculture sectors,” he said.
The recent snowfall not only brought joy to farmers but also lowered the temperature, providing a much-needed cooling period for plants. With temperatures running over 6 degrees above normal for the past two months. “The snowfall is a welcome relief for orchards requiring approximately 1200 hours of cold treatment. This has heightened hopes for a successful flowering season. We are happy with the snowfall as it has given a new lease of life to the orchards and growers,” Riyaz Ahmad, another grower said.
Atta Mohammad from Kangan emphasised the broader benefits, highlighting the revival of dry streams and the critical role of snowfall in supporting agriculture, horticulture, and even tourism. “The snowfall is expected to mitigate forest fires by covering the forests with snow, addressing the dryness that contributes to these incidents. Forest fires and water scarcity would also end with this snowfall,” he added.
Chaudhry Iqbal, Director of Agriculture, said farmers, who were concerned about the prolonged dry spell, were relieved by the arrival of snowfall. “Our farmers were worried during the prolonged dry spell. I am happy, and we all heaved a sigh of relief with the snowfall. It is a gift from God to all farmers, and I am very happy,” he said.
Iqbal emphasised the importance of snowfall for crops in the field, highlighting its role in establishing integrated nutrient management by providing essential elements and optimal moisture for crop growth.