Cyclone Amphan hit 100,000 ha farmland: Odisha minister

Farmers rue crop loss, blame state for insufficient insurance policy

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Friday 22 May 2020

Two days after Cyclone Amphan brushed past coastal Odisha causing heavy rains and gale, farmers reported widespread damage to paddy crops in state’s Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts.

Heavy rain lashed north and coastal parts of Odisha for three days, destroying paddy crop in the harvesting stage. Farmers said the next two-three weeks were crucial to assess the damage to their farmlands.  

“All our crops are destroyed. How will we return the bank loans?” said Jagannath Sahoo (45), a farmer from Balasore district.

Revenue and disaster management minister Sudam Marandi said on May 22: “Around 100,000 hectare of agricultural land has been damaged. The state government has directed officials to assess the damage caused to agricultural land in next three days, and that caused to houses and buildings in a week.”

He added that all affected farmers will be provided loans and seeds.

The cyclone has already dealt a severe blow to the agricultural economy of several areas washing away standing summer paddy crops; farmers now fear heavier losses if the rainwater is not flushed out from their cultivable lands soon, said Umesh Chandra Singh, vice-president of Kisan Sabha state unit.

Singh attributed the farmers’ loss to the ‘faulty’ agricultural policy of the government. He said the government hasn’t yet formulated a concrete policy to help farmers insure their agricultural lands and get compensation.

Amphan also left in lurch around 50,000 betel-vine farmers in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts. Millions of green betel leaves in paan farms were ruined by heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds, said Bhagirathi Das, betel-vine farmer from Balasore district.

Odisha farmers show their damaged paddy crops. Credit: Ashis Senapati

“Had there been no cyclone, we would be busy harvesting paan by now,” said Niranjan Swain, a 47-year-old farmer from village Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district.

Another affected farmer said Balasore was known as the ‘paan bowl of Odisha’, but “Amphan damaged their back”.

“I spent around Rs 2 lakh to build paan farms and planted paan saplings over one acre land. But the cyclone flattened my farms,” said Sankar Mallick of Gobindapur village in Jagatsinghpur district. 


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