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Sudden rainfall leaves Maharashtra farmers worried

This 2012 file photo shows a farmer in the middle of his dry field in Maharashtra. Photo: Vivek Bendre

This 2012 file photo shows a farmer in the middle of his dry field in Maharashtra. Photo: Vivek Bendre   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

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Sudden rainfall over the weekend may have caught Mumbaikars off guard, but for farmers across Maharashtra already stressed with farm suicides and losses it has brought new worries of damage to crops.

The unseasonal rain and thundershowers witnessed in several parts of the State - Marathwada, Vidarbha and Khandesh - have put crops at risk.

 In Nashik district in north Maharashtra, grapes which are now in the harvesting stage, have possibly been damaged. In Vidarbha, wheat, channa and other vegetable crops have also been damaged, farmers said.

According to observers, prices of vegetables are likely to go up as a result of the damage. Though it is too early to assess the extent of damage done--similar weather conditions are likely to continue for another day--the State government has got into action.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said he had asked Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya to assess the damages caused by the sudden train.

"Untimely rain is worrying. Have asked Chief Secretary to get the assessment of damages caused by it," Mr. Fadnavis tweeted.

The sudden rainfall comes at a time when farmers organisations in Maharashtra have expressed disappointment with the Union Budget 2015-16 which was presented on Saturday.

Kishore Tiwari, president of the farmer advocacy group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) called for the intervention of the Centre as he "has no faith in the unprofessional attitude" of the Maharashtra administration.

He pointed out that in Vidarbha, cotton farmers who were reeling under losses in the Kharif season had pinned hopes of recovery from the Rabi season. But with the unseasonal rain, they have been dealt a crippling blow.

He said farmers had suffered similar loses last year but the State's compensation smacked of apathy.

"You are paying Rs. 2,000 to a farmer who suffered loss worth Rs. 2 lakh? The government has not been able to secure even the Rs. 4, 000 crore aid package it asked from the Centre in November," Mr. Tiwari told The Hindu.

Mr. Tiwari said that the BJP government had made Vidarbha farmers suicides a major election issue and had promised better cost and credit for farm produce. However, recent statements of ministers and officials reflect that they are deviating from their promises, he said.

Vidarbha has been witnessing suicides by farmers in the past due to debt, drought and crop failure. Maharashtra witnessed 1,160 farmers suicides in 2014. In 2015, it has already touched 120.

Maharashtra government last year officially declared that 60 per cent of its villages were facing "severe drought" affecting almost 90 lakh farmers in the state. "23,811 of state's total 39,453 villages fall under this category after kharif crop was damaged," Mr. Tiwari said.

Raju Shetty, MP, and founder president, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtna, said though farmers were promised a lot during election campaigns - among them an adequate minimum support price for all farm produce - they were crying for basic infrastructure.

 "Had basic facilities being provided to farmers why would have they begged before all for help? What is the option left to farmers now? This budget has ignored the problems of farmers," Mr. Shetty said.

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Printable version | Jul 22, 2018 9:07:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/sudden-rainfall-leaves-maharashtra-farmers-worried/article6950767.ece