Prolonged dry spell ravages agriculture in Kashmir

A woman burns dry leaves to make charcoal on a cold and foggy morning in Srinagar outskirts
A woman burns dry leaves to make charcoal on a cold and foggy morning in Srinagar outskirts | Photo Credit: Sajad Hameed

SRINAGAR — The persistent dry spell in Kashmir is wreaking havoc on farmers, as crops suffer extensive damage, prompting the Agriculture Department to issue advisories.

On the outskirts of Srinagar, farmers report substantial losses in turnips, carrots, radishes, and collard greens due to the arid weather conditions.

Nazir Ahmad, a distressed farmer, expressed concerns over the dried-up turnip crops, and a group of farmers highlighted the financial losses incurred. The unexpected weather challenges have disrupted the agricultural rhythm, leaving farmers grappling with emerging consequences.

Director of Agriculture, Kashmir, Choudhary Mohammad Iqbal, assured that the department is closely monitoring the situation and will issue an advisory soon to guide farmers through the ongoing dry spell.

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In Anantnag district, the dry spell raises concerns for mustard crops, with farmers reporting deficiency symptoms due to insufficient rainfall or snowfall. Mustard, an annual crop harvested in April, faces vulnerability as the lack of precipitation impacts water availability for upcoming seasons.

Ghulam Rasool Shah, a farmer from Anantnag, expressed worry over the mustard crop’s yellowing, emphasizing its reliance on winter snowfall for irrigation.

Director of Agriculture in Kashmir, Choudhary Mohammad Iqbal, stated that the department is actively addressing the issue, and an advisory will be issued shortly.

Meanwhile, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K) issued an advisory for orchardists and farmers amid the dry spell. The advisory includes recommendations for Apple, Almond, and Apricot orchardists to avoid pruning and irrigation and maintain sanitation to prevent freezing injury.

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For field crops like oilseeds, wheat, peas, and oats, the advisory suggests thinning of brown sarsoon crop, organic mulch use, and field sanitation. Additionally, orchardists are advised to use organic or inorganic mulch, surface scrapping for aeration, and apply shallow irrigation if critically needed during the day.

As the dry spell persists, the cumulative impact on agriculture in the Kashmir Valley raises concerns about the livelihoods of farmers and the region’s overall food security.

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