Rain & hailstorm may cast a cloud over Rabi crops
NEW DELHI: Unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms in north India over the weekend, along with a forecast of more showers and storms in the days ahead, have put at risk the rabi crop, especially wheat, mustard and mangoes, raising fears of increasing rural distress.
Officials are monitoring the situation because rainfall and hailstorms on the eve of the harvest can damage crops severely.
A series of hailstorms had destroyed crops three years ago, which added to farmer misery in a drought year.
So far, the impact of rain and hail has been limited to a few pockets, but the India Meteorological Department has forecast “fairly widespread” rainfall in the next three days in north India because of a series of rain bearing weather systems. Farmers said they have already suffered some damage.
“There is some damage to crops in Shamli, Meerut, Saharanpur and other places in western Uttar Pradesh. Rain has affected wheat, mustard and mangoes. We are assessing the losses. We will inform the state government Tuesday about the losses,” said Sudhir Panwar, president of the Kisan Jagriti Manch.
Adverse weather is a risk, said Trilochan Mohapatra, director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Punjab, Haryana and UP to Assess Impact
“Rainfall accompanied by hailstorm can affect the quality of grain. So far, we have not got any reports. It is too early to say how much the impact would be after the rain that is forecast,” he said.
Agriculture ministry officials said so far there is no report from the states. It usually takes 10 to 15 days to report damage caused by weather, they said.
Punjab State Farmers Commission chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar said so far there was no major impact of rainfall in the state. “If rain is followed by heavy wind then there will be damage to the crop,” he said.
The weather office said in its latest forecast that thundershowers along with gusty wind are “very likely” in some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and adjoining regions for three days.
Roller Flour Millers Federation of India president Divya Agarwal said it has asked association members in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to assess the impact of rain on the crop.
“We want to know how much is the crop damage and impact of it on the grain. Usually farmers harvest the crop and keep it lying in the fields, which may rot once it rains,” Agarwal said.
The welfare of farmers was a key thrust area in this year’s budget by finance minister Arun Jaitley. The government also promised to use a farmer friendly formula to determine the minimum support price for grains, although many leaders of the farming community say they are not satisfied.