CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI: Torrential rains at the end of the monsoon season have severely damaged paddy, cotton as well as vegetable crops in Punjab and Haryana, the key suppliers of grain in the country, dampening prospects of a record harvest that the agriculture ministry expects.
Farmers and traders said long spells of rain in the past few days have led to heavy losses in the early-sown varieties of paddy and cotton as some of it was being harvested or was ready for the harvest. Punjab and Haryana are the worst affected states.
Farmers said the yield loss was up to 30% for widely-used ‘Pusa 1509’ variety of basmati, and up to 10% in the case of cotton. Officials and traders say the damage was being estimated but initial reports indicate an overall yield loss of about 3%, Punjab’s director-agriculture Jasbir Singh Bains said.
He said water logging was reported in many districts and farmers have been advised to ensure drainage to check losses from multiplying, he said.
“The losses are likely to be as high as 30% in case of Pusa 1509 as the variety was being harvested and the rain has caused widespread flattening of saplings that had attained maturity,” Bains said. He added that discolouration and higher moisture are going to cause quality issues in paddy as well as cotton this season. In Punjab, water logging has affected paddy crop mainly in districts of Patiala, Moga, Tarn Tarn, Amritsar and Ludhiana.
Union agricultural secretary Shobhana Pattanayak said preliminary reports do not indicate damage to crops in other parts of the country. “We have sought detailed report as rains continue to cover northern states and the reports will come in a day or two,” he said.
Vijay Setia, president of All India Rice Exporters Association, said there are reports of damage in early basmati variety but the actual assessment could be made after the sky is clear.
Rice growers are worried that the higher moisture content in regular rice variety will also cause hurdles in procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP). Farmers are also worried that the combine harvesters are not suited to harvest flattened crop and will cause further yield loss.
In Punjab, paddy growing is preferred in low-lying areas to ensure additional availability of water but it has caused water logging in such areas.
“It is not easy to drain water from low lying areas and crop in such fields will rot,” Bhartiya Kisan Union president BS Rajewal said. The losses are more than the preliminary estimates and will burn a hole in farmers’ pockets. He said the Centre needs to extend 100% coverage of losses in case of natural calamity.
Rains are expected to cause heavy financial losses to cotton farmers in Haryana and Punjab as the affected crop is not suited for storage and will fetch low price in the prevailing market.
“Rain has affected 10% of cotton fluffs that were in full bloom and set for picking. It will cause quality issue and discolouration,” Haryana’s additional director of agriculture Suresh Gahlawat said. He said untimely rains will lead to germination and compromise quality of the produce.