A month ago the continuous dry spell and snowless winter had forced the government to ask farmers and growers in the Kashmir Valley to desist from sowing paddy in their fields as the officials feared scarcity of water especially during peak summer months in June and July when paddy fields require water in abundance.
However, four back to back spells of weather cycle seems to have changed the scenario as Valley received more than above normal rainfall in the month of April and first week of May. Even MET office has now further predicted few more spells of the rainfall.
The rains and fresh snow in the upper reaches of Valley has brought cheers on the faces of growers who were worried after government had issued a circular in the first week of April.
“Since the advisory was issued by the government we were worried. Now after three four cycles of rain it seems our worries have subsided,” said Farooq Ahmad Shah a resident of Handwara in Kupwara district- the first district where farmers were desisted from cultivating paddy by government fearing water scarcity.
The government was forced to issue an advisory after state received less than normal snow and rain in the winters. Already Kashmir had received very little rainfall since last April.
To overcome this crisis, the government had advised farmers to sow crops that require minimal water like cereals, maize etc.
In Kashmir paddy fields rely on surface water and the irrigation and Flood Control Department provides water to 2.5 lakh hectares of land. However dry spell had depleted water in rivers and streams that are the main water sources in Kashmir…
In March the water level in Jhelum, which should have been 1.5 meters (five feet) was at a 1.3 meter. But it has now increased to a considerable level.
According to MET office, the state had received deficit rainfall for the last three years. While in the first three months of 2016, Kashmir received 265 mm rainfall; in 2017, the state received 494 mm rainfall for the same period.
However, the average rainfall for this period is 627 mm. In the last two months of 2017, the Valley received lesser rainfall in comparison to the three previous years. Similar circulars were issued by the state govt in 1957 and 2007, when J&K faced a drought-like situation.
In the last few winters, day temperature recorded in Kashmir has been above normal. In February and March (2018), day temperature was higher in comparison to the same period the previous year.
In Kashmir, paddy is cultivated in around 1.41 lakh hectares of land. Nearly 88 lakh quintals of rice are produced every year, and the industry is worth Rs 200-300 crore.
Around eight varieties of rice are grown in the Valley which includes K332, Jhelum, Shalimar Rice 1, Shalimar Rice 2, Shalimar Rice 3, Mushk Budji, Kamad and Zag or Red Rice. The fresh rainfall is also going to help the fruit growers who were also worried by the continuous dry spell.
Experts say that this rainfall will help the fruit crop in good yield. Director MET Sonum Lotus said that they had predicted that rainfall could change the dry spell. “We received good rainfall in April. Hope this month also we will witness good spells of rain. It’s going to be good omen for the agriculture and horticulture industry.”