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Climate change endangers crops in the Himalayas

In three of the past four years, growers in the Kashmir Valley — which produces 75% of India’s apples — have witnessed major early snowfalls. In the late autumns of 2018, 2019 and 2021, early snows destroyed orchards across the valley. Researchers say Kashmir’s erratic weather is the result of climate change.

But it’s not only early snows affecting Kashmiri farmers, especially apple growers. Heavy rainfall, hailstorms and even periods of drought have upset crop yields. Some farmers have lost as much as 40% of their crops in the past three years. 

According to a government study conducted by India’s Department of Science and Technology, out of the 12 states in the Indian Himalayan Region, the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is one of India’s three states most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A study from 2020 warns that Kashmir’s apple orchards will become unsustainable in the coming years, and that, “The untimely and extreme weather patterns over Kashmir in recent years have not only impacted ecosystems but also severely dented the economic sectors.” The study also notes that economic losses sustained by extreme weather events “led to a virtual grounding of the horticultural sector in 2018 and 2019.”


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