Over 20,000 salt farmers in Orissa’s Ganjam district bore the brunt of heavy rains since Thursday under the influence of cyclone Laila affecting salt production.

Salt production in the district was severely affected following the continuous rains and a huge quantity of salt was washed away, the farmers in Ganjam, a major salt-producing area in the district said.

Salt production was likely to be reduced by 50 per cent due to nature’s fury twice in the recent times and a halt in production for at least four days due to oil spill from a ship last month, secretary of Humma-Binchhanapalli salt cooperative society, Duryodhan Reddy, said.

Salt production in the district began from first week of February and will continue till June 15, before onset of monsoon. The heavy rains in April and the oil spillage from the ship had hit the production”, another salt farmer in the area said.

When salt production was in full swing in the district, the heavy rains in the last three days under the influence of Laila hit the salt producers, he added.

With rains continuing in the district, the salt farmers are apprehending to bear more losses this year. If the rain continues, the salt production will not take place any more in the district, they said.

While there are over 5,143 acres of salt areas in the state, the operational area is only restricted to 3035 acres, most of it is in Ganjam district. Some private parties are also produce the salt in the district.

Salt production in the state was 29,995 mt last year, 23,479 mt and 28,690 mt in 2008-09 and 2007-08 respectively, the sources said.