Kashmir Indepth

Valley witnesses flash floods, early melting of glaciers; agriculture horticulture sectors affected

Erratic Weather

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

Srinagar Sep 12 (KINS): Kashmir valley has witnessed erratic weather conditions this year which affected agriculture, horticulture sectors besides creating flash floods and early melting of glaciers.

There have been frequent erratic weather patterns in Kashmir with experts attributing it to global warming.

A dramatic shift happened in 2022, when winter remained mostly dry and a snowless Chillaikalan was observed. The month of March, which is considered to be the wettest month in terms of rainfall, was almost 10 degrees warmer compared to the previous years. It leads to early snow melt in alpine landscapes and also early flowering of fruits.

The month of April too witnessed above-normal temperatures and incidents of severe heat waves.

On June 21, Srinagar registered the coldest June day in the last 48 years. According to the official data, the temperature remained 14.2°C below normal.

Similarly, Kashmir witnessed several flash floods this year due to abrupt rainfall in June.

Mehraj Ahmad, a 55-year-old farmer from Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district said over 40 percent of apple trees in his orchard have withered due to dry temperature and influx of pests this year.

“The reduced precipitation in March and April has largely impacted our crop. These were months when adequate precipitation was sorely needed. The early rise in temperature in March which also led to early sprouting of fruits. Then in April, there was a sudden dip in temperature. We could not irrigate the orchard which led to the drying of trees. The erratic weather conditions have largely hit crop production this year,” he told news agency KINS.

“I sold apples for Rs 4 lakh this year. Had there been adequate precipitation this year, I would have earned at least Rs 7 lakh,” he said, who owns 1 ½ hectares of land.

There are thousands of farmers in Kashmir who faced heavy losses due to drought-like situations from March to June followed by flash-floods. Besides the erratic weather also led to early melting of glaciers and scarcity of water.

Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families according to official figures are directly or indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes over eight percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mohammad Amin, a resident of Pulwama said they sowed pulses and maize on paddy fields this year due to lack of water. “Rice requires a good amount of water. We sowed alternate crops like maize and pulses to escape from larger losses,” he added.

In May this year, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department issued an advisory asking farmers in North Kashmir to avoid sowing paddy this year owing to dry spell.

Adil Ahmad, a researcher, said erratic weather has hit various sectors of Kashmir.

“There was early flowering this year but the low precipitation led to withering of flowers. The low precipitation impacted crops as fruit production is directly dependent on flowering formation,” he said.

In addition, he said erratic weather also caused flash floods this year. “The flash floods also damaged mountain diversity. The flash floods also hit the nomads as grazing areas were also affected. Whenever there is a sudden increase or decrease in temperature, local biodiversity of that particular area including wildlife gets disturbed,” he said.

He said flash floods due to inclement weather also led to loss of fertile soil. (KINS)

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