Frequent rain worries Kashmir farmers, fruit growers

Srinagar, June 4 (IANS) Frequent rain across the Kashmir Valley in over past two months have left local farmers and fruit growers worried, since the inclement weather has affected transplantation of paddy and put fruit-bearing trees at risk of diseases.

May and June are crucial for paddy cultivation in Kashmir since rice saplings are transplanted from nurseries to the fields during these two months.

However, frequent rain has not only affected the transplantation operations, but also hampered the normal growth of saplings in the nurseries.

“Our fodder crop did not grow to the right length this spring. Now, frequent rains are affecting rice transplantation, even as chilly weather caused stunted growth of the saplings in the nurseries,” said a visibly worried Javaid Ahmad, 42, a farmer in north Kashmir.

Fruit growers too are worried about moisture in their orchards, which acts as a catalyst for fungal and parasitic diseases in trees, besides causing an explosion in pests’ numbers.

“Fungal diseases explode in orchards in wet weather conditions since moisture remains on leaves and trunks of apple trees for longer periods,” said Dr Sheikh Bilal, professor at the Srinagar agricultural university.

“Pests like hairy caterpillar – also called gypsy moth – grow better in rainy conditions.”

“These pests devour leaves and other fleshy parts of the tree, destroying both the fruit and the plant,” he added.

What is adding to the growing worries of farmers and fruit growers alike is the fact that local weather forecasts do not hold good news for them in the near future as well.

Weather is likely to be inclement during the next 24 hours.

“Intermittent light to moderate rain with thunderstorms will occur in the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh regions today (Thursday), with improvement in overall weather conditions only towards late afternoon,” Sonam Lotus, director of the local Met office, told IANS here.

“Light rain with thunderstorms are expected across Jammu and Kashmir again next week,” he said.

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