Agriculture

Extreme rainfall damages nearly 4 million hectares of crops in Marathwada

Incessant rains through the month of August and September have affected 4.48 million farmers this season

 
By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Monday 03 October 2022
A flooded agricultural land in the Marathwada district. Photo: Aishwarya Iyer
A flooded agricultural land in the Marathwada district. Photo: Aishwarya Iyer A flooded agricultural land in the Marathwada district. Photo: Aishwarya Iyer

Farmers in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region suffered yet another severe blow due to incessant rains during August and September. This comes after the farmers had incurred severe losses worth crores of rupees during July, 2022.

Over 4.48 million farmers have suffered severe crop damage and this may increase over the coming months, according to the divisional commissionerate, Aurangabad.

Some 3,652,872 hectares (ha) of land have been affected due to the unexpected rains, of which 35,34,371 ha are rain-fed. Around 68,391 ha come under irrigation and 5,0,109 ha fall under horticulture.

 A distressed farmer on his farmland. Photo: Aishwarya Iyer

The total sowing area in the Aurangabad, Beed and Latur districts was reported to be about 2,067,896 hectares this season, according to official estimates.

The division received rains in the last three weeks of September, making it over 100 per cent above normal. Aurangabad district received 165 per cent, 113 per cent and 130 per cent of rainfall between September 1 and 21, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Beed received 122 and 116 per cent rainfall for the weeks September 7-14 and September 14-21 respectively. Latur, Jalna and Parbhani, Osmanabad and Hingoli districts also received excess rainfall resulting in large-scale crop damages.


Also read: Excessive July rains destroyed 800,000 hectares of crops in Maharashtra


Bapurao Kurumkar, a marginal farmer from the Beed district, said all his crops were damaged in the rains.

“September is the month when crops start bearing fruit and harvest begins. But just when I was about to harvest tur (pigeon pea) and soyabean, the rains caused severe damage,” he told DTE.

Kurumkar said his cotton plantation was also under threat. “I have planted all the crops in three acres (1.21 ha) of land and I fear that all the crops will be lost,” he said.

The cotton starts bearing pods and the October heat would have facilitated it. But with excess rains, the pods have been damaged, he added.

Farmers have started taking precautions to avoid any infestation as well.


Also readNearly 600 farmer suicides in 8 months: Is Marathwada facing agri-distress


“The unexpected rains make cotton crops vulnerable to infestation. I have sprayed insecticides and pesticides for the fifth time this season. However, the exercise has increased the input cost by three times,” said Dastagir Pathan, another farmer from Beed district.

The cost of spraying pesticides through the season has increased to Rs 60,000 due to incessant rains, said Dastagir, who co-owns six-acre (2.42 ha) with his two brothers.

“If I sell cotton, I am likely to earn the same amount of money. Given the heavy expenses, there will be no profits to sustain. Our fight is only to save the crops from extreme weather,” he added.

Other farmers  from Marathwada told DTE they feared the remaining crops would also suffer damage if the rains continued.

The effect of the La Nina weather phenomenon will continue until year-end, resulting in more rains, including in the Indian subcontinent, stated the World Meteorological Organization, in its recent report.

The district administration officials have already started field inspections to assess crop damages. However, only limited relief has been disbursed by the state government

The divisional commissionerate has estimated damages to the tune of Rs 376,223 for farmers who have suffered more than 33 per cent of crop loss, making them eligible for crop damage compensation from the state government.

Funds worth Rs 1,688 crore have already been received from the state government, said Sunil Kendrekar, the divisional commissioner. “More funds will be requested as the reports of damages are updated and losses and measured,” he added. 

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