The unseasonal showers that occurred last week ruined the plans of many farmers. Initial estimation by the Horticulture Department has showed that crops on approximately 7,741 hectares, valued over ₹20 crore, were lost. Kolar, where unusually-sized hailstones hit the ground, was the worst-affected district, followed by Bidar and Bagalkot.
In Srinivasapur taluk of Kolar district, where reportedly 100-gram hailstones fell for over an hour, department officials said that approximately 4,500 hectares of mango, 1,000 hectares of vegetables and fruits, and 30 to 40 hectares of flower crops were damaged.
“We had not heard of such hailstorms here in 70 to 80 years. While mango is our major crop, tomato comes next. Both of them were badly affected by the rains. Other vegetables like brinjal, capsicum, and cabbage also had to bear the brunt of the hailstorm and heavy winds,” said M. Srinivasan, Senior Assistant Director, Horticulture Department, Srinivasapur.
The farmers in the region were also baffled by the hailstorms. “It started suddenly and we did not know what to do. The size of those stones was so big that they actually broke open bigger fruits like watermelons. It looked like sheets of hailstones had covered our fields after the showers halted,” said Shankar Reddy, watermelon grower, when The Hindu visited the district.
Mr. Srinivasan said farmers were told to attach GPS images of their crop losses along with their applications to avail compensation. “As this was a natural calamity, the compensation has to come from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). We will be submitting the report to the district administration,” he said.
Between March 16 and 18, thunderstorms and hailstorms occurred in many parts of the State. “Many districts like Chickaballapur, Mandya, Mysuru, Belagavi, Raichur, and Kalaburagi have also reported crop losses due to the rainfall last week. Right now, we have the general estimation and the detailed report will be ready by the end of this week. Before the model code of conduct kicks in, we will submit the reports to the respective district administrations to help farmers with compensation,” said Rajender Kumar Kataria, Principal Secretary, Horticulture Department.