A black Diwali for farmers: Unseasonal rainfall damages crops in Maharashtra

Marathwada in Maharashtra received above-average rainfall this year. To add to the miseries of farmers, it rained in October as well, which has damaged their crops

Arvind ShuklaArvind Shukla   1 Nov 2019 11:18 AM GMT

A black Diwali for farmers: Unseasonal rainfall damages crops in Maharashtra

"The farmers in Marathwada are facing a tough time. It didn't rain in June-July, which affected sowing. When we somehow managed to sow seeds, the unseasonal rainfall, which continued for 15 days, damaged our crop. It didn't rain so much even during my father and grandfather's time," said Ashok Panwar, who lives in Chincholi Bhuyar village in Osmanabad district in Maharashtra.

Most parts of Maharashtra have received rainfall throughout October because of cyclone Kyarr. The farmers in Osmanabad, Latur, Nanded, Aurangabad, Beed, Akola and Solapur have suffered huge losses and their soybean, bajra, urad, cotton, mung, tur crops are completely damaged.

Devendra Fadnavis, in a tweet, released the following data in a meeting organised to review crop damages due to unseasonal rainfall in various parts of the state.

Diwali is a big festival in Loha block in Aurangabad, which is around 325 km from Osmanabad. But farmers were in no mood to celebrate. Jakir Jamiruddin Sheikh, who lives in Parandu village in Aurangabad, said: "We have lost our bajra crop and half of our cotton crop. We grow pomegranate and mosambi (sweet lime), but because of the rainfall, these crops will not bear fruits until next season."

Last year, Jakir, who owns a three-acre landholding, had to spend Rs 3,000-3,500 per tanker to buy 20,000 litres water to save him mosambi crop. Now, his 65-feet well is full to the brim and there is enough water in 50-feet dams.

"But this unseasonal rainfall is of no use. It hasn't rained so much in October in the past 10-15 years. In 2015, we had received good rainfall. And then drought hit us in 2016-17 and 2018. This is why 1,076 farmers in Aurangabad had committed suicide in 2018. This time, we have faced a double blow. If the government does not come to our rescue, we would die of hunger."

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Maharashtra had received 127% above average rainfall from October 1-30. The eight districts of Marathwada region received 217% above average rainfall. Aurangabad (223%), Jalne (323%), Parbhani (220%), Hingoli (127%), Nanded (171%), Latur (163%) and Osmanabad (193%) and Beed (294%) have received above-average rainfall.

Talking about this unseasonal rainfall, Himanshu Thakur, who is the coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, an organization working on issues about rivers and dams, said: "It has hit the economy hard. Farmers in Marathwada are suffering the most. If we don't support them now, it would be a disaster for the country."

Marathwada, which has seen so many farmer suicides over the years, is prone to government apathy and carelessness of crop insurance companies. Recently, assembly elections were held in the state. There has been a delay in appointing the chief minister. This is hurting the farmers. The home minister Amit Shah conveyed that he would send a team to assess the damage caused to crops due to unseasonal rainfall in Maharashtra.

Ashok Panwar, a farmer who lives in Osmanabad, said: "The government conducts a survey on loss that farmers suffer. But no one comes to access the damage done so far. The insurance companies are not even picking up our phone calls."

Watch the video here:

Shoaib Hajimiya Sheikh, a farmer who lives in Aurangabad, said: "I had sown bajra in my four-acre farm. After harvesting, it was ready to be sent to the market. But it got damaged due to rains. I would not get a single penny for that."

Bali Ram Dangi, a farmer in Pokarbhosi village in Nanded district, said: "I had sown jwar, soybean, turmeric and cotton. But all this is wasted now. It the duty of the government to give us compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. If the don't, what will we eat?"

Sheikh Malang (Nanded), Jakir Sheikh (Aurangabad) and Piyush Kant (Akola) contributed to this story.

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