The excess, untimely rainfall has hit Himachal Pradesh farmers harder than a weak monsoon can.
Repeated hailstorms have battered its apple, cherry, and almond crops and the increased moisture level led to the outbreak of yellow rust in wheat in Kangra, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, and Mandi districts. Apple output declined in Shimla and Kullu districts but favourable weather in May helped farmers bounce back a bit from the tough times in February and March.
Shimla meteorological centre director Manmohan Singh said that in April, the state had received 68mm rainfall against the normal mark of 58mm, while March was wettest in the state's history when the rainfall was 189.4mm. "Weak monsoon is predicted in the country, but in Himachal Pradesh, western disturbance can compensate the deficiency," he added.
The state agriculture department counted 80,000 hectares to have been affected by rain and stormy conditions. "Wheat crop in many lower-altitude areas and peas in some parts were hit," said Rattan Das Sharma, a farmer from Theog, confirming the fallout in Mandi, Kangra, and Hamirpur. In March, the Centre released `63 crore to the state as disaster relief. On March 31, Himachal Pradesh gave damage estimates to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh. The figure was `30 crore. The damage to horticulture crops was another `18 crore.