Unseasonal showers that lashed parts of Gujarat, including Ahmedabad, on Thursday night have added to farmer’s woes. Unable to sell their Rabi harvest in open markets after the government ordered APMCs to remain closed until April 15, the farmers are now faced with huge losses after rains damaged their crops.
“The APMCs have closed even before I could take my wheat harvest to sell. With the government shutting down the food-grains market, we were worrying about where and whom to sell, when last night showers damaged my crops. It rained again this morning. With my crop wet, I will easily incur a loss of 30 per cent,” said Atmaram Patel, a 60-year old wheat farmer from Nani Kishol village about 34 kilometres from Sanand in Ahmedabad district.
The ready-to-harvest golden-brown wheat stalks spread over 50 bighas of this veteran farmer is now wet and expected to adversely affect the quality of wheat, which in turn will affect his income. “Usually we would have finished harvesting by this time of the year. But last monsoon was delayed and therefore we sowed the Rabi crop late. I am afraid the wet wheat will now lose colour. It has already lost its brown colour and turned white,” he added.
Atmaram said the cumin farmers in his village were also badly hit by the unseasonal rains. “Though our crops are ready for harvest, we are now finding it difficult to get labourers because of the lockdown,” he added.
Kanti Patel, a farmer who had sown wheat on 100 bighas in Rupwati village located on the Nal Sarovar road in Viramgam taluka of Ahmedabad district is equally dejected. “The rains have undone the hard work we had put in. This is now becoming a routine affair. My Kharif crop too was damaged because of unseasonal rains,” said Kanti while talking to The Indian Express.
According to the meteorological department in Ahmedabad, the district received 9 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours till 8.30 am on Friday. The other districts where it rained are Gandhinagar (8mm), Deesa (1.6 mm), Vadodara (1.2 mm) and Bhuj (2.8 mm).
Sagar Rabari of Gujarat-based Khedut Ekta Manch said that farmers growing cumin in North Gujarat were also affected by the unseasonal showers yesterday. “The farmers were ready with their harvest. But they cannot sell as the APMCs are closed. Even the state government is yet to begin the procurement based on minimum support price (MSP). Now, rains have damaged their produce which is still lying out in the open at the farmers home or is still standing in the fields,” Rabari said.
“As the government closed the APMCs, there was a more than Rs 100 jump in the prices of food-grains and edible oil in the retail market. Closing down the APMCs for longer duration will disrupt the supply chain and cause a shortage,” he added.
According to sources in APMC Sanand, which was procuring wheat and closed down without informing the farmers in advance, the farmers usually harvest their crops and come directly to the APMCs to auction their produce. “This is because most of them do not have any place to store the grains after harvest and so rains can play spoilsport for farmers who are yet to sell their harvest,” an office bearer of the APMC said.