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Apple Production Hits India as Kashmir and Himachal Agricultural Fields Suffer Damage

Heavy rains have caused significant damage to farms and resulted in the destruction of roads, power lines, and infrastructure, amounting to a loss of $550 million in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Concurrently, adverse weather conditions have adversely affected India's vital rice crop, leading to an export ban imposed last week.

Shivangi Rai
Unfortunately, a fungus infestation has further worsened the situation. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)
Unfortunately, a fungus infestation has further worsened the situation. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)

India's apple production is anticipated to decline significantly this year, nearly halving due to the impact of heavy rains and flash floods in the primary producing regions of the country, namely Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

The adverse weather conditions not only caused damage to farms but also led to the destruction of roads, power lines, and infrastructure valued at Rs 4500 crore in Himachal Pradesh. Simultaneously, bad weather conditions affected India's crucial rice crop, resulting in an export ban.

The states of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh together contribute almost all of India's apple production, with a majority of the apples being consumed domestically. Exports account for less than 2% of the country's apple supply, primarily to Bangladesh and Nepal.

Unfortunately, a fungus infestation has further worsened the situation, leaving fruits, including apples, to rot in the farms, and causing significant losses for the farmers.

According to Harish Chauhan, the state convener of the farmers union Samyukta Kisan Manch, approximately 10% of Himachal's apple orchards have been washed away, which is a major setback as it takes around 15 years for apple trees to bear fruit.

The Apple Growers Association of India and Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers projected a 50% decrease in apple output in Kashmir, the largest apple grower in the country, compared to the previous year's production of 1.87 million metric tons.

The adverse impact on crops is attributed to insufficient snowfall during the winter, followed by excessive rainfall, which caused damage to the farms. The weather department's data revealed that Kashmir received 50% more rain than the average during this monsoon season, which began on June 1st, while Himachal Pradesh, the second-largest producer, experienced 79% more rain than usual.

Kashmir's horticulture department estimates that the overall damage to fruit crops could amount to up to $109.78 million. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, the output is expected to decrease by 40% compared to last year's production of 640,000 metric tons, as confirmed by a state official.

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