Unseasonal rain, hailstorm batter standing rabi crops in Maharashtra and M.P.

P. Manoj |Rahul Wadke | | Updated on: Feb 12, 2018

Soured An orange orchard damaged by a hailstorm and unseasonal rain in Vidarbha, Maharashtra By special arrangement | Photo Credit: By special arrangement

Trigger concerns for Karnataka’s coffee growers on next crop

The unseasonal rain and hailstorm over the past couple of days have impacted standing rabi crops across parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

The rain has affected standing crops such as wheat, corn, onion, jowar (sorghum) and green gram on about 1.24 lakh hectares in Maharashtra. Orange and banana plantations too have suffered extensive damage.

Pandurang Phundkar, Agriculture Minister of Maharashtra, in a statement, said that rain and hailstorms over Saturday and Sunday have affected 1,086 villages in 11 districts of the State. Buldhana, Amravati and Jalna are the districts that have suffered maximum damage. The officials of the Revenue and Agriculture Department have been ordered to survey the damage and file Panchnama immediately. The officials have been asked to provide village-level information to the insurance companies for faster claims, the statement said.

Oranges turn sour

Amol Totey, working President of Orange Growers Association of India (OGAI), told BusinessLine that since January 14, the trees were in full bloom and farmers were busy plucking the fruits. The hailstorms have led to fruit dropping on a massive scale. Such damaged produce cannot be transported over large distances as they develop black spots, which are not preferred by customers. But the bigger tragedy is the damage to the trees and the likely fungal growth due to moisture in the environment.

Trees, which were about to enter the flowering season, are hit badly. OGAI would soon be requesting the Centre for the release of some disaster-relief funds, he said.

The Nagpur orange variety, which is cultivated in affected districts, flowers twice a year providing a double harvest to the farmers.

Framer Rishikesh Sontakke from Takarkheda-More village in Amravati district said that his 11-acre orange orchard and nine acres of farmland (where he cultivates green gram) are hit. He claims a loss of ₹10 lakh.

Madhya Pradesh too hit

The rains have also affected standing crops in nine districts of central and northern Madhya Pradesh . According to the State government, districts that suffered large-scale damage to its wheat and pulses crops include Sehore, Raisen, Bhopal and Dewas.

According to Prakash Vora, a local pulse trader, the hailstorm may not have any large bearing on the output, but will certainly change the colour of crops like dollar chana, chana and wheat, thereby causing an impact on its pricing.

Vora said standing crops of masur, which are grown extensively in these regions, is likely to suffer from the hailstorm.

Coffee too loses aroma

For the beleaguered coffee growers in Karnataka, who are already battling a poor crop and low prices, the unseasonal rains in the past few days over parts of the key growing regions could hurt the prospects of arabica crop in the next season starting October.

Also, the untimely showers have interrupted the harvest of robustas, which is in last stages and drying of the coffees.

Parts of Coorg and Chikmagalur have received rains over the past couple of days, which growers said was too early for the coffee blossom. “It is going to have an impact on the next crop,” said HT Pramod, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association. The rains are at least a month early for the arabica variety fuelling concerns that it will trigger vegetative growth in the reproductive buds. However, for the robustas, the sporadic precipitation is seen aiding the irrigation process.

Bose Mandanna, a planter at Suntikoppa, said the drying of coffees has been interrupted by the sporadic and untimely rains. Since the Indian coffee is 100 per cent sundried, the freaky weather and cloudy atmosphere has affected the drying process, he said.

With inputs from Our Indore Correspondent and Bengaluru bureau

Published on February 12, 2018
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