Actualidad nacional e internacionalOct. 1, 2020
India: Ola de calor y COVID-19 merman producción de manzanas de la principal zona productora (en inglés)
SRINAGAR, India – Javid Ahmad shook his head in disgust at the bag of carrots he had discovered while arranging vegetables on his roadside stall in Indian-administered Kashmir – inside, half of the carrots were broken or mouldy, and not fit for sale.
«This is what farmers are getting from their farms this year,» said the 41-year-old vegetable seller.
Ahmad understands the challenges farmers are facing, as three months of drought on top of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a sharp drop in the quantity and quality of fruit like apples, peaches and vegetables grown in the region.
And customers are paying for it, the vendor added, with shortages pushing up the cost of fresh produce «beyond imagination».
«When we quote the price of the vegetables to customers, some feel like slapping us,» Ahmad said. «Even so, most of them end up buying.»
The regional meteorological department in Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city, said last month the region had experienced its biggest rain shortfall in 78 years, with 54% less than the average between June and August.
At the same time, Kashmir’s five-month lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 made it difficult for farmers to access and apply pesticides and fungicides, leaving their crops vulnerable to diseases and pests, experts and officials said.
According to a survey by agricultural economist Farhat Shaheen and his colleagues at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), yields of rice, maize and pulses have all been affected to varying degrees.
Apple harvests have dropped by nearly 40%, the study noted.
Mehraj-u-Din Nath, general secretary of the Kashmir Vegetable Dealers Association, said more than 60% of the summer apples and vegetable crop was destroyed by drought this year.
Stall-holder Ahmad said he had «never seen such a situation in the past 23 years» since he started selling produce aged 18.
Reuters/October 1st, 2020