CHITRAL: Prolonged winter has delayed arrival of spring in Chitral.
Hayat Baig, an agriculturist working with an NGO said the spring season in the valley is delay by forty days and this cast an adverse effect on the productivity of crops and fruits. He said that the almonds used to blossom in the month of February and heralded the arrival of spring season but this year it is yet to blossom as severe cold has gripped the valley.
He said that the situation in the upper parts of the valley is more worsening than the lower parts which has received unprecedented amount of snow this year. Mr. Baig said that the roots of the seedlings of wheat and barley have withered away for want of higher level of temperature while the area remained shrouded by snow till now.
The farmers in the area grew wheat and barley for their sustenance while livestock keeping is another major source of their food and income and the affected crops will further affect the animals, he apprehended. He feared that the trees of apricot, peach, pear and apple may not bear fruit which needed high temperature for the fomentation. Mr. Baig said that apple and apricots were grown on commercial scale in the upper valley and the low productivity will further weaken the economic position of the farmers.
The roads to a number of valleys in Chitral remain closed for vehicular traffic for the last two months as a result of which commodities of daily consumption have ran out there.
The accumulation of the bulky amount of snow in the hills has resulted in avalanches which have blocked the roads while the villages of Kari, Garam Chashma, Sarghuz, Oveer and Yarkhun have been hit hard. An official of communication of works (C&W) department said the roads were still threatened by the impending avalanches and they will have to wait for another month to clear them.
The harsh weather this year has also reportedly affected the arrival of migratory birds, especially the water fowls in the area. Ejaz Ahmed, a biodiversity specialist, confirmed the very low turnout of the migratory birds in the area this year and blamed the extended harsh weather and incessant rain as the main reason.–Zahiruddin