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Unseasonal rains, hailstorms damage crops in India

Updated: 2023-03-22 09:27
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A farmer checks crops damaged following heavy rains on the outskirts of Amritsar, India, on March 17. NARINDER NANU/AFP

NEW DELHI — Unseasonal rains and hailstorms in large parts of India over the past three days have damaged standing crops, particularly wheat and mustard, across large swathes of agricultural land.

The central government is yet to release official figures on the estimate of damaged crops and the financial losses suffered by farmers.

Rains accompanied by thunderstorms lashed Delhi and its surrounding areas on Monday. Reports of rains and hailstorms have flooded the media and social media platforms, with people expressing sympathy for the farmers.

Agriculture in India is largely dependent on rain, but at times incessant rains also cause huge losses.

Almost the whole of India has witnessed untimely rains and hailstorms since Saturday. The months of March and April are the harvesting season in the South Asian country, particularly for the wheat and mustard crops, mainly in northern, central and western parts of India.

Narendra Yadav, a farmer in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said he anticipated more than 60 percent loss in wheat crops due to the unwelcome rains and hailstorms.

"Every year I sow wheat in nearly 0.6 hectare (of land) and used to harvest nearly 150 quintals (15,000 kilograms). But this time I would get less than 30-40 quintals (3,000-4,000 kilograms) of wheat with these ill-timed rains and hailstorms damaging the standing crops in the past three days," added Yadav.

Similar reports of crop damage were received from other states, including Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Rahul Rao, a farmer from the Mahendragarh district of Haryana state, told Xinhua over the phone that the farmers in his area would face losses of up to 80 percent this season.

A report published by the New Indian Express newspaper said: "The untimely hailstorm that lashed the state of Telangana on Thursday in the early hours of Friday left a trail of devastation over 8,097 hectares of maize, green gram, papaya and mango and other crops, most of which were in flowering and ripening stages. According to agriculture department officials, over 7,622 hectares of maize, cultivated by around 1,930 farmers, was damaged in the erstwhile Khammam district (in Telangana) alone."

The India Meteorological Department issued an advisory to farmers suggesting they postpone the harvesting of crops.


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