An unusual spell of hailstorm across 28 districts in Maharashtra has damaged 11 lakh hectares of rabi crop estimated at Rs 5,000 crore, according to latest estimates by the state agricultural department. The extended hailstorm has adversely affected most parts of Marathwada, Western Maharashra, North Maharashtra and Vidarbha.
Government officials said Baramati, Pune, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Nashik, Akola, Buldhana, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Amravati, Yavatmal, Washim, Jalgaon, Nanded, Nadurbar and Dhule are among the worst hit. “Almost 28 of the total 35 districts in the state have taken a beating due to the unseasonal rain and hailstorm,” said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Chavan held discussions on how to help the farmers. “I have asked the state government to forward a proposal for compensation to enable us to provide a financial package to the affected farmers,” said Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday.
Wheat and horticulture crops have been affected the most. The farmers cultivating grapes, oranges, mash melons and bananas have suffered maximum damages with almost their entire crop destroyed. According to V K Rajeev, Director, IMD, although a hailstorm in parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha after winter — especially in early February — is not unusual, it displayed higher intensity this time. The extended hailstorm has been attributed to moisture laden winds from Bay of Bengal colliding with winds blowing from Arabian Sea over Central India.