With over one-third of harvesting operations for rabi crops including wheat yet to be completed, the meteorological department's forecast of heavy rain during the next few days has caused anxiety among farmers in the state. This month the weather remained dry until Tuesday when several areas of the state were lashed with moderate rainfall.
Earlier the unseasonal rainfall in March and April adversely affected the crops, including wheat, in several areas of Himachal Pradesh. However, the target for sowing rabi crops was exceeded by 5,400 hectares. The crops have been sown on 434,656 hectares across the state.
In April the state received 68 mm of rainfall against the normal of 58 mm while it was the wettest March in the state's history of with 189.4 mm of rainfall. The freak rainfall damaged crops in around 392,000 hectares.
The agriculture department said the sowing target had been exceeded and this would help in farmers being compensated for crop losses due to inclement weather. "The weather has remained favourable so far but in the next few days more rain has been predicted. This could affect the harvesting of rabi crops, mainly wheat, in the lower altitude areas of the state," said PS Panwar, joint director of the state agriculture department.
The department, which had set a foodgrain production target of 711,500 metric tonnes, during the current rabi season, had assessed crops losses due to unseasonal rain at `59.22 crore, of which losses of `10.12 crore are on account of the wheat crop that was been damaged in area of 56,711 hectares. The maximum losses were caused in Kangra district where rain damaged crops sown on around 47,000 hectares, followed by Chamba (8,000 hectares), Mandi (3,305 hectares) and Hamirpur (4,000 hectares).
More rain, thunderstorms likely
The Shimla meteorological centre has forecast more rainfall and thunderstorms in the state during the next few days. "Rain and thundershowers are likely in the plains till May 14 while in the mid altitude areas more rain can be expected during the next three to four days," Met director Manmohan Singh said. The weatherman also issued a warning on thunderstorms with hail occurring in the mid altitude areas of the state.
-Rabi season stats-