Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Jan 17: The crucial part of winter is almost nearing its end and it has not snowed yet in Ladakh.
Like the rest of the farmers, the current weather pattern has doubled the worries of Sadiq Hardassi, an apricot farmer of Hardas village in Kargil district of Ladakh, who has been associated with the cultivation of this fruit for many decades.
“Snow is a blessing for apricot farmers of Ladakh. Our livelihood is determined by the crop, which we harvest to sell in various parts of the country. No snow means a death blow to the apricot trees,” he said.
Like Sadiq, hundreds of apricot farmers in the high-altitude region of Ladakh are expressing growing concerns as they grapple with an unusual snowless and dry winter.
Traditionally reliant on a blanket of snow for irrigation, the absence of snow is posing significant challenges to the cultivation of apricots, a vital crop for the region.
“We are experiencing a snowless winter for the first time here. Farmers of Ladakh particularly from Kargil district are very much worried because of the topography of the area. Farmers know that they won’t be able to manage irrigation for apricot orchards in Spring time when it doesn’t or snows less during winter,” Sadiq said.
He said the farmers ideally need to irrigate their apricot orchards once in every 10 days to ensure quality fruit during the season.
“The main source of irrigation for our orchards is glacial water. We are worried that our apricot trees will wither if there is no timely snowfall during winter. It will be a big loss to the apricot farmers of Ladakh, who harvest apricots worth Rs 10 crore during the season,” Sadiq said.
Ladakh’s apricot orchards are known for their robust and flavorful produce, with the winter season playing a crucial role in the fruit’s development. Growers said the absence of snow and dry conditions are disrupting the natural growth cycle of apricots, affecting the quality and quantity of the harvest.
Mohammad Jawed, another apricot farmer said the current dry weather may affect the health of apricot trees.
“Apricot trees require adequate moisture during their dormancy period, and the current conditions may impact the overall health of the orchards. So, there must be a timely snowfall so that the earth retains moisture,” he said.