Srinagar, Nov 16: AIKS demands that the Central Government must fully compensate the losses suffered by the apple growers in Jammu and Kashmir due to unprecedented snowfall which has destroyed the apple crop and damaged millions of trees. First and foremost we demand the waiver of loans taken by the farmers in the State for agriculture. The approach of the State administration has been insensitive and the announced scale of relief for damaged orchards under “state-specific special natural calamity” is grossly inadequate. The State administration decision of compensation of Rs.36,000/hectare for perennial horticultural crops like apple does not compensate the farmers for actual losses. Heavy snowfall has destroyed not just the standing crop of apples, but also caused almost irreparable damage to fruit trees like apricot, cherry, walnut, almond etc. Losses are to the tune of thousands of crores according to latest reports. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has also not benefited the vast majority of farmers and its implementation has also been discriminatory under the earlier PDP-BJP regime. There are also no effective Market Intervention Schemes to help farmers. AIKS demands that a Central team visit the State to assess the damages and take into account these factors.
We have to note that a tree damaged due to the snow is a recurring loss for the farmer for years to come. The early snowfall has not only affected the returns this year, but is bound to affect the returns from the horticulture crops for the years to come. The Government should provide compensation keeping in view the recurring losses to the farmers. The earning of farmers, whose livelihood is dependent on it, will come down drastically in the years to come. A tree takes at least a decade to mature and the snowfall has ruined the hard work of years of farmers.
Horticulture, which is the mainstay of the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, is in shambles. Only a holistic approach of compensation, liberation from debt, reparation of damages and pro-farmer Market Intervention Scheme as well as in processing and value-addition can help the farmers overcome the crisis. AIKS demands immediate redressal of grievances of the farmers of Jammu and Kashmir.