According to the farmers, blasts and brown spot diseases have been prevalent in previous years, but their impact this year was unusually severe.
Farmers in southern Kashmir are concerned about the poor rice production this year since many people rely on the crop for their livelihood.
Farmers from various parts of southern Kashmir expressed worry for this year’s harvest being very low compared to previous years since the crop was infected with diseases.
Paddy takes more time to be ripe for harvesting
The harvest typically becomes ready in the middle of September, according to Shafqat Nabi, a young scholar and the son of a farmer from the Pulwama district.
He, however, says that this year’s crop wasn’t ready even months after its usual time. “This was very problematic, given the season of ‘incessant rains’ was approaching,” he added.
Ghulam Ahmad, another farmer from Pulwama, said that they are seeing pretty low yields this year, which is especially noticeable at the time of threshing. “This is causing farmers a lot of concern because thousands of households rely only on paddy,” he stated.
Threshing paused in many areas after harvesting
Many farmers haven’t so far threshed their harvest this year, according to Gulzar Ahmad, another farmer from Shopian.
The rains have delayed the threshing in our area. However, the latest spree of civilian killings has forced many non-local labourers to leave for their home states, which again has caused a shortage of the labour force.
Gulzar now plans to take his three brothers along for threshing the crop himself.
Disease and insufficient rainfall dropped the yields
Blasts and brown spot diseases have been common in recent years, according to the farmers, but their impact this year was particularly severe.
Experts also enlist lack of rainfall as one of the prime causes for the declining yield of traditional paddy varieties.
Farmers in various areas of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district complained of low yield including Kakapora, Pathan, Pampore, Awantipora, Tral, Litter and many other parts.
Officials blame farmers for sticking to traditional varieties
Meanwhile, officials from the Agriculture department claim that despite conducting dozens of awareness camps about the productivity of new varieties of paddy crop, the farmers are still adhering to old conventional ones.
As per the department, farmers must change varieties on a consistent basis every five to seven years. However, they say this isn’t happening on the ground.