MAHARASHTRA IS in the middle of another agrarian crisis as over 40 per cent of the 138.82 lakh hectares under kharif sowing has been damaged in the unseasonal and incessant rain that lashed the state in the last week of October.
In its assessment of the extent of damage, the state agriculture department has said that over 54.22 lakh hectares have been hit by heavy rain, with the eight districts of Marathwada reporting damage across over 22.71 lakh hectares.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a review meeting with senior officers on Friday to review the extent of damage.
The final estimates, placed by government officials before Fadnavis during the meeting, stated that the rain has hit over 54.22 lakh hectares, with cotton (19.73 lakh hectares), soya bean (18.63 lakh hectares) and maize (4.89 lakh hectares) crops suffering the maximum damage.
The districts of Marathwada have been the worst hit. According to farmers, the rain has damaged their almost-ready crops of soya bean, cotton, maize and jowar across 22.71 lakh hectares. Amravati and Nashik divisions have reported damage in over 11.98 and 16.69 lakh hectares of land respectively. (See box)
Major crops damaged in the rain include jowar (2.10 lakh hectares), bajra (2.16 lakh hectares), toor (1.18 lakh hectares) and some vegetables (1.86 lakh hectares). The losses incurred by farmers may cross Rs 5,000 crore, according to initial estimates.
In the last week of October, the state saw renewed rainfall activity due to cyclonic disturbance Kyarr as well as the withdrawal of monsoon. Barring districts in Amravati division, all other districts in Maharashtra have received more than their normal quota of rain. But the assessment of crop loss was delayed due to the state elections and Diwali holidays.
More than 53,000 hectares of horticulture crops have been damaged in the rains. Grape growers of Nashik have said total production will fall by 40 per cent as growers from Niphad and Satana taluka, who were expecting an early harvest in January, have lost all their crop. Losses have been reported to the ready onion crop, which is expected to trigger a price rise in the next few days.
Fadnavis has convened a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Saturday to decide on measures that need to be taken to reach out to the affected farmers. A survey of damages using drones have been ordered across rain-hit parts of Vidarbha, western Maharashtra, Marathwada, Konkan and north Maharashtra. A central team is also likely to arrive this week to conduct a detailed survey.
On Friday, the CM held a video conference with the district administration to review the ground situation. “…Among the measures that need to be taken are providing a mechanism to the farmers to salvage their crops that are ready and take the same to the market for auction. Also, the process of assess crop loss would have to be expedited so that financial help can reach farmers shortly,” he said.