Two “feel good” stories: Kashmir has a bumper fruit production, and migratory birds flocking to Kashmir
In Valley, fruit yield at all-time high
Fruit production in Jammu and Kashmir has touched 20 lakh metric tonnes this season — an all time high — thanks to bumper apple crop.
Since the beginning of the year, the horticulture officials were optimistic about a good fruit harvest with some even predicting the yield to go beyond 30 lakh metric tonnes. However, continuous rainfall and hails destroyed some of the apple crop in the Valley’s north.
The bumper fruit production has come as a good news at a time when the Valley has witnessed a series of violent incidents that has had a direct impact on the growers.
President, Fruit Growers’ Association, Ghulam Rasool Bhat said that despite shutdowns and road-blockades, the apple growers managed to dispatch fruit-laden trucks to different parts of the country. “In July and August, most of the growers could not send their fruit to other states as the national highway and other highways were disrupted for many days due to the protests. But things have improved now, and hundreds of apple laden trucks are being sent to different cities every day.”
He, however, said the bumper production has slightly affected the rates in the markets and increased the production cost.
Bhat, who owns a big fruit orchard in north Kashmir, said: “At 10 to 12 lakh tonnes earlier, Kashmir growers were leaders in apple production. With a rise in production, we are now eyeing the international market.”
Migratory Birds Flocking to Kashmir
Srinagar: With the onset of winters in Jammu and Kashmir, more than two hundred thousand migratory birds from Central Asia and China have migrated to the region, flocking various wetland reserves.
The state wildlife authorities claim to have received more avian visitors this year than they expected at the three famous wetland reserves established at Haygam, Hokersar and Shalibag in the picturesque valley.
The early arrival of birds from traditional habitats like Central Asia, China and Eastern Europe signals that the temperatures in those areas also have taken a dip, forcing the birds to move earlier than expected.
Officials at the Hokersar reserve asserted that comfortable climatic conditions, better protection and the easy availability of food in the region were the prime reasons behind the massive migration of birds.
“These birds migrate to Kashmir to escape the extremely low temperatures in the Central Asian countries this time of the year.
The conditions are extremely harsh and cold. In some places, the temperatures dip to minus 40 and minus 35 also. This is a natural phenomenon, if humans are exposed to such temperatures, they will also migrate to warmers havens,” said Ghulam Mohammad Lone, Wildlife Warden, Hokersar Wetland Reserve.
The winged visitors from Siberia, China, Central Asia and Northern Europe add colours and vibrancy with their chirping at the regional wetlands and fresh water lakes.
These birds begin their flight to Kashmir in early September and stay till spring heralds in the next year.
Locals maintain that the birds have been keeping their winter sojourn to Kashmir since times immemorial.
“These are beautiful and colourful birds. I feel very happy when I see them here. All the visitors who come to see these birds also find them very beautiful. These birds come from across the world,” said Farooq Ahmad, an employee at the Hokersar Wetland Reserve.
The Hokersar wetland, which used to be spread over a sprawling 13.5 square kilometres land, has been gradually reduced through the years due to encroachments.
Besides, Hokersar, Hygam and Shalibag the other prominent destination for these migratory birds is at Mirgund.
Hundreds of thousands of exotic birds such as Mallards, Greyleg Geese, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovellers, Pochards and Coots make their temporary nests here.