Officials fear severe damage if cyclone strikes coastal districts
The prospects of a bumper foodgrain yield during the monsoon have considerably dimmed as the threat of cyclone looms large and heavy rains continue to batter several coastal districts.
Standing crop spread over an estimated 2.83 lakh hectares (a little over 7 lakh acres), according to preliminary estimates, is under water in six coastal districts. The extent could be much higher after the assessment of the damage is complete. A cyclonic storm at this juncture would result in damage in more areas hitting the prospects of reaping a record yield. With bountiful monsoon that filled reservoirs and recharged groundwater to a large extent, farmers went ahead with sowing in close to 10 lakh acres additional ayacut giving scope for achieving foodgrain production of 214 lakh metric tonne, including about 140 lakh metric tonne in kharif alone. Heavy rain that lashed the coast, however, put paid to hopes on the projected yield as paddy in Krishna, Visakhapatnam, West and East Godavari districts, major contributors to the State's food basket, developed signs of damage.
Damp weather and continuous downpour had resulted in discolouring of grain in the rain-affected districts. The surge of a cyclonic storm at this juncture, as predicted by the weathermen, would leave no scope for farmers to dry the affected crop or save the standing crop. Officials fear that the damage in the event of a tropical storm striking the State would be much higher compared to the property and crop loss suffered due to heavy rain during September-October last year.
Ready for harvest
According to Agriculture Commissioner Sunil Sharma, crop suffered damage during flowering season last year that gave an opportunity to farmers to opt for fresh plantation. “But the damage this time is likely to be more as the crop is ready for harvest,” he told The Hindu.