Kashmir’s strawberry producers in a bind due to heatwave
Growers expect significant losses this year as the government has so far failed to meet requests for borewells
The spike in temperature and lack of rainfall this year has impacted not just electricity and water supplies, but also strawberry producers in Kashmir, with growers claiming that they have incurred significant losses owing to the lack of borewells in the backdrop of a comparatively significant heatwave.
Scores of strawberry growers told Digpu News about their agony and hardships this year as a result of the sudden spike in temperature and lack of rainfall.
Heatwave and rain shortfall damaging
In particular, the temperature in Kashmir has risen sharply since March, while the Valley has seen over 90 per cent rain shortfall, hurting water and electrical supplies as well as putting fruit producers in the lurch.
Strawberry producer Murtaza Hamid from a village on the outskirts of Srinagar city claimed that output is down this year since much of the fruit was destroyed by the sudden increase in temperature in March coupled with a lack of rain.
“Unlike the previous two years when COVID-19 was at its peak, producers were anticipating a nice season this year,” Murtaza, who has been involved in the strawberry industry for the last decade or so, said in a candid chat.
Strawberry growers lament lack of government support
He also bemoaned the government’s lack of support, claiming that they get no aid and even their requests for bore-wells have not been met despite persistent representations.
Another grower, Zubair Ahmad, noted that the strawberry trade is the sole source of income for most of the households in their area.
“Because of COVID-19, the markets were closed, and the rate fell at the same time. However, this year’s market was excellent in comparison to prior years, but output was down,” Zubair informed.
He went on to say that it is critical for the fruit to have a reasonable temperature, but that when the temperature rose suddenly in March, the fruit’s development was disrupted, resulting in losses for the producers.
‘Irrigation facilities denied’
Despite the fact that the majority of the villagers here are solely involved in this business, Zubair claims that they have been denied irrigation facilities.
“For the last five years, we have been requesting borewells for the communities here, but nothing has been done. We addressed a letter to the authorities concerned again this year, but it was all in vain,” he rued.
The borewells, the growers claim, will help them ensure improved fruit output, and urged the Lieutenant Governor-led Government of Jammu & Kashmir to support them in this respect so they could go about their business worry-free and fetch good revenue.