India

Rain damages food grains in mandis; farmers forced to suspend harvest

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AMBALA: Thousands of tonnes of wheat got soaked in untimely rainfall on Thursday in the grain markets of Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar and Ambala, compounding the miseries of weather-hit farmers. Harvest operations of wheat also came to halt due to inclement weather in many parts of Punjab and Haryana as farmers fear further damage to their already spoiled crop.

"There is no hope that harvesting would commence again in the coming week," said a farmer. Apart from that, wheat brought to the grain markets got wet as procurement agencies struggled to provide cover to farmers to protect the food grains. In Kurukshetra grain market, hundreds of farmers aired their grievances before additional chief secretary (youth affairs) K K Khandelwal who met them on Thursday. Although Khandelwal assured the farmers that moisture content of wheat grains had been increased to 14% from 12% for procurement, they were not convinced fearing harassment at the hand of agencies. "We have suffered a huge loss due to bad weather so any kind of partial relief is not a solution to our problems," said Jagtar Singh, a farmer of Mathana village who had come to Kurukshetra grain market.

Heavy downpour has created another problem for farmers as they have been forced to suspend the harvesting work. "There is no option except to stop harvesting as the crops are inundated. It will not be possible to run combine harvesters for a while now," said Ranbir, a farmer from Aamin village of Kurukshetra. In Yamunanagar, farmers suffered a big loss in Chhachhrauli and Bilaspur. Rainwater accumulated in thousand acres of standing wheat crop. At Ambala, various farmers who had brought their produce to the mandis were worried about agencies procuring their crop. They feared that they would have to lessen their produce at lower than the minimum support price of Rs 1,450 per quintal.

Sudden rain on Thursday added to woes of farmers in Hisar who have started harvesting wheat crop after Baisakhi. Two farmers of the district have committed suicide after their crop got damaged. Ramesh Kumar, a farmer from Hindwan village, said, "Wheat is ready to be reaped. Farmers have even started harvesting their crop. But untimely rain has escalated worries of farmers. I have already harvested wheat on two acres. The remaining standing crop has been affected by the rain." Another farmer Amit said, "Heavy rain for more than 20 minutes soaked my crop. I will now face problems in selling it in the market."

Amritsar: After brief sunshine for few days, giving a ray of hope to farmers, they once again became gloomy with overnight rain in most of the parts of Punjab.

Farmer G S Chabbha said "More rain means further decrease in yield and more losses. Coming days are going to be very hard for us." He said not only the yield would be poor but there would be more moisture in the grains which meant they even wouldn't get the minimum support price for their produce.

Another farmer Gurbaksh Singh from Umraopur village said with few days sunshine the fields were drying and there was hope of harvesting to begin, but now it would be delayed for another couple of days.

Patiala: Incessant trains that had lashed Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts in the past one week has led to compromise in the quality of food grain as experts said at least 10% of the produce being brought to the markets was reported to have shriveled grains. "Around 11mm rainfall is reported in Patiala district. In Patiala block alone, quantum of rainfall was 17.5mm. This is sufficient to delay wheat harvesting at least for 3-4 days," said Patiala chief agriculture officer (CAO) Jasbir Singh Sandhu.

"However, what is more worrying both for farmers and agriculture department is rains are again expected in this region on April 19 and 20, which will further cause trouble," he added. Agriculture officials also revealed that harvesting would be delayed in Sangrur district as around 15mm rainfall is recorded in the town and surrounding areas.

Fatehgarh Sahib CAO Inderpal Singh said, "Around 10% of wheat that has arrived in the grain markets has shriveled grains. But rain is causing damage at multiple levels. It is causing discoloration and shriveling of the wheat crop."

Jalandhar: Rain in the wee hours of Thursday dashed hopes of those farmers whose wheat crop was already flattened while others apprehend that it would add to their problems.

"It has come as a double whammy. A major part of our crop in 14 acres was already flattened due to hailstorm some days ago, but still we were expecting that we will be able to get some yield during harvest. However, rain in the early morning on Thursday has almost completely finished our hopes of getting anything from these fields. Grains have already blackened," said Kundan Singh of Kangniwal village on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road.

Mandeep Singh, another farmer from the same village, said over five acres of his crop was damaged by earlier rainfall and now it was completely flattened due to the latest showers. "Harvest has been further delayed and it would reduce yield further," he said. Dilbag Singh, sarpanch of Billa Nawab village near Nakodar, said around 100 acre crops had got spoiled earlier and Thursday's rainfall had added to their damage.

52mm rainfall in Kurukshetra:

India Meteorological Department said places which were lashed by rain included Chandigarh (10.1mm), Amritsar (29.6mm), Sirhind (15mm), Batala (3mm), Gurdaspur (11.2mm), Madhopur (7mm), Dasuya (8mm), Hoshiarpur (14mm), Mukerian (10.6mm), Jalandhar (22mm), Kapurthala (40mm), Ludhiana (21.2mm), Patiala (13.3mm) and Mohali (9mm). In Haryana, Ambala (35.7mm), Hisar (8.2mm) Karnal (2mm), Bhiwani (1mm), Fatehabad (9mm), Jind (25mm), Kaithal (17mm), Kurukshetra (52mm), Yamunanagar (13mm) and Panchkula (6mm).