Cyclone Phailin wrecked nearly 500,000 hectares of standing crops in eight districts of Odisha, including four, which were hit the hardest.
Putting out details of the devastation, Odisha Revenue Minister SN Patro said 14,514 villages in 12 districts had been affected, hitting a population of more than 80 lakh people. He pegged the total losses from crop damage at `2,400 crore.
Apart from potentially ruining lives and rural real estate of nearly 10 million people, cyclone Phailin will wreck a fertile rice-growing belt along India’s eastern coast, where the main summer crop is at a ripening stage. The damage could shave off 1% of India’s total rice output, according to an official’s estimate. Blustery weather of windy conditions and heavy rains are now expected in four states — Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and parts of western Uttar Pradesh.
“Once we can access the fields, we will be able to draw up a plan for corrective measures,” said TK Adhya of the Central Rice Research Institute.
Most rice farmers along the east coast tend to grow a long-duration sturdier rice variety, the result of naturally adapting to a region prone to extreme weather, said A.N. Rao a senior rice scientist associated with the International Rice Research Institute said. “Yet, crops could not withstand such intense winds in many areas,” he added.
India had raised the annual funding for a “green revolution in eastern India” from `400 crore to `1,000 crore in 2012-13.
As a result of which Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar have posted over 10 million tonnes of food output for the first time, with Madhya Pradesh picking a top central government award recently.
With the gradual weakening of the 60s green revolution, policymakers are focusing on turning the foot-dragging eastern part of India into the next food bowl.