Untimely rains that lashed several states in the last couple of days have reportedly damaged standing crops like wheat, mustard and gram. Northern Uttar Pradesh alone witnessed an estimated wheat loss of 15-20% due to lodging (stem collapse). Mustard crops that were in harvesting stage in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were also affected.
“We are still compiling the data but, on an average, untimely rains in the last two days, depending on the region, have caused 10-20% damage to standing crops like wheat, mustard and gram. Some fruits like mango, cashew, orange and grapes have been affected,” said Dr N Chattopadhyay, deputy director general, agricultural meteorology division, Pune.
Apart from Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab received heavy rains caused by western disturbance that formed in the Arabian Sea on February 28. Western disturbance is the term used to describe a storm originating in the Mediterranean that brings sudden rain and snow to the Indian subcontinent. Maharashtra registered moderate to heavy rains. Sunday’s downpour of 56.8mm has already made this month Delhi’s wettest March in five years.
“The high winds accompanied by rains have caused lodging of crops in many areas. Most parts of Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have been affected. Wheat-growing areas have been affected the most,” Chattopadyay said.
With the weatherman predicting more rains in the coming days, there has been growing concern of its effect on farmers and their produce. “March will be wetter than normal. There will be a negative impact on early-sown mustard and wheat in all regions where the rainfall has been very heavy. We can also expect some loss of vegetables. The high humidity and low temperature have created conditions that are congenial for the outbreak of pests and diseases in fields,” director general of India Meteorological Department (IMD) Dr L S Rathore said.
According to IMD sources, another western disturbance is likely to form on March 5. “This fresh disturbance will affect the western Himalayan region from March 7 and cause scattered precipitation. It will also cause isolated rain and thunderstorm over plains of northwest and central India and at a few places in the northeast. Isolated rain or thunderstorm would also occur over peninsular India.”
The issue of loss to farmers was also raised by some MPs. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the government would take appropriate measures.