Kashmir is in the grip of an unprecedented heatwave this September, with dire consequences for its agriculture sector, particularly apple and paddy crops. On September 12, Srinagar recorded its second-highest maximum temperature ever recorded in September since 1891, reaching a scorching 34.2°C, just shy of the all-time high of 35.0°C set in 1934. Qazigund and Kokernag also experienced record-breaking temperatures, exacerbating an already challenging situation.
The soaring temperatures have led to premature ripening of crops, disrupting their development cycle and adversely affecting both their quality and quantity. The average September rainfall in Kashmir is 75mm, but the region has received only a mere 20mm of precipitation, leaving a significant 55mm deficiency.
Apple growers are particularly concerned, as the excessive heat has hindered color and size development in their crops, impacting the market value of their produce. The apple-growing region of Pulwama has been hit very hard.
While the heatwave persists, there is little immediate relief in sight. The Meteorological Department attributes the dry and hot weather to the El Niño phenomenon, causing temperatures to rise globally. The department does not anticipate significant rainfall until September 20, which could further exacerbate the crisis.
However, there is a silver lining for paddy farmers, as the weather conditions have been favorable for the crop’s growth. Some parts of the region may start harvesting the crop in the next 10 days. Another positive dimension is that tourism in Kashmir remains relatively unaffected, with August and September seeing higher inflows compared to the previous year.
That said, it hardly detracts from the concern about the creeping climate change. Though global in scale, it affects every region of the world. And as the continuing erratic weather in Kashmir in recent years reveals, the region is increasingly feeling the impact. According to reports and some surveys, many natural streams in various parts of the Valley have run dry in recent years. And the reason for this is the steady depletion of the glaciers. This has not only reduced the discharge in the rivers and streams but also made many water bodies extinct, affecting the irrigation in the Valley. However, such disturbing changes aren’t specific to Kashmir only. This is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. There is thus an urgent need for the world to come together and take remedial measures to pre-empt the catastrophe. But it may take decades before the world is able to sufficiently reign in the factors which are contributing to the disruption in the climate. As continuing heatwaves show, the world needs to quickly get its act together before it is too late.
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