Cyclone Yaas: Acres of standing crop destroyed in Odisha’s ‘vegetable bowl’

Farmers fear further losses if rainwater is not flushed out from the fields

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Monday 07 June 2021
Yaas devastation. Photo: Ashis Senapati

Cyclone Yaas that made landfal in Odisha May 26, 2021, damaged large tracts of crops, affecting betel–vine farmers, paddy farmers and vegetable growers in Kendrapara, Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak districts. 

The unseasonal torrential rain and ferocious winds brought by Cyclone Yaas severely damaged large tracks of vegetables, black and green gram, groundnut and summer paddy crops across the districts.

“I lost all the groundnuts on my three-acre land. How will I repay the bank loan?” said Samarendra Barik from Gobindapur village, Kendrapara.

Millions of green betel leaves that is used to make paan have been ruined by the heavy rains and gusty winds, said Narendra Jena, a betel farmer from Dagara village, Balasore district. “This will impact around thirty thousand betel-vine farmers in the four districts.”

Around 150 villages were submerged by floods after Cyclone Yaas struck. The affected villages form the ‘vegetable bowl’ of Odisha as the riverside land in the villages are very fertile, said Ramachandra Pradhan, a vegetable grower of Rajkanika village.

Many farmers like him whose crops were ruined will require financial help from the government to bounce back, he added. “Cyclone Yaas has broken our backbone.”

The increase in groundwater might have destroyed vegetables that were sown early, farmers fear. “Brinjal, pointed gourd and other crops may also get diseased due to the untimely rain,” said Bijaya Behera, a vegetable cultivator from Chandabali village in Bhadrak district.

The crop loss has already triggered a price hike of vegetables that had become cheaper last month due to good weather, he added.

Ramaniranjan Routray, a farmer leader associated with All India Krishak Sabha, said:

The cyclone and floods have already washed away standing crops. A large numbers of farmers fear more losses if rainwater is not flushed out from their lands within a week.

The state government faced losses amounting to Rs 610 crores due to Cyclone Yaas, said Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief secretary, Government of Odisha.

Hundreds of farmers will bear the impact of crop loss and many might find it hard to recover. “Immediate steps will be taken to arrange and distribute quality certified seeds in sufficient quantities to the affected farmers,” added Mohapatra.

An inter-ministerial central team conducted a spot assessment June 7 of damages caused by cyclone ‘Yaas’ and flooding in the affected areas.  

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