Kashmir: 700,000 growers, a 6 billion apple industry, zero insurance
Srinagar: Jammu & Kashmir witnessed an untimely heavy snowfall on November 3, 2018 which caused huge damage to apple growers with some estimates putting the losses suffered by Kashmiri apple farmers at over 5 billion rupees (€61.5 mln).
Apple growers were the hardest hit as the snowfall didn’t only damage the apple crop, but also the branches of apple trees which were laden with leaves and fruit, thus making them break under the weight of snow. The sudden snowfall also disrupted the transportation of Kashmiri apples to outside states as the lone highway connecting Kashmir with outside world remained blocked for several days.
This is not the first time Kashmiri apple farmers had to suffer economic losses because of an extreme weather event. Farmers in Kashmir, especially the apple growers, have been suffering because of vagaries of weather such as unexpected snowfall, heavy rainfall, hailstorms or lack of rainfall for years now. The extreme weather events get repeated almost every year leaving the farmers high and dry. The worst damage in recent years was caused by the 2014 flooding in Kashmir.
Vulnerable, but unprotected
According to a vulnerability assessment study, carried out by government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) about 12 states in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), Jammu & Kashmir is one of the first three most vulnerable states to climate change impacts in India, the other two being Assam and Mizoram.
“Our study reveals that Jammu and Kashmir has the third highest vulnerability ranking among the Indian Himalayan States, mainly because it has no area under crop insurance, its most geographical area is under sensitive slope, it has least road density, low percentage of area under horticulture crops, relatively low participation in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme, low livestock to human ratio and low percentage of women in the overall workforce, among other factors,” said Majid Farooq, an environmental scientist working with Jammu and Kashmir government, who participated in the study.