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Unseasonal Rains Impact on the Crops

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The showers seem to have impacted vegetable crops particularly tomatoes, cauliflower and also late-sown grapes in some parts of Maharashtra, particularly in the Solapur-Nasik and Satara region. The recent  unseasonal rains in parts of north and central India hasn’t had any big impact on standing wheat crop so far as bulk of it has been either harvested or is in the late maturing stage. There have not been reports of much damage to chana crop as well as much of the same has already been harvested in major growing states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra except Rajasthan.

Wheat, which is one of the major foodgrains grown during the Rabi season, has been planted in around 30.42 million hectares in 2018, which is around 427,000 hectares less than last year. While farmers and traders fear that the rains would hurt grain quality and shrink output, Government agencies maintain there is no major impact on the crop, so far.

GP Singh, Director of the Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research said the rains in Punjab and Haryana are ‘scanty and scattered’ and will not affect the crop.“In fact, we are heading for a record year in wheat as the crop has been good in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, where harvest has already commenced,” Singh said. The Agriculture Ministry has pegged wheat crop at 97.11 million tonnes (mt) for 2017-18. As of March 1, wheat stocks in the Central Pool stood at 15.15 mt — higher than last year’s 9.42 mt.

“Rainfall at this time is not at all welcome, mainly for the wheat crop as it will downgrade the quality,” said KK Singh, Head-Agrimet at the IMD.

“Wheat harvested and still lying in the fields will get affected. Also, the standing crop in isolated places that have witnessed heavy rains will get affected. However, it would be difficult to quantify the losses at this time,” Singh said.

“As of now, we haven’t got any report of big damage to the standing wheat crop because in Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh the crop has already matured, while in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan harvesting is still on. But, yes if another bout of rain or thunderstorm comes with hailstorm, then it can impact the crops. But as of today there isn’t much concern,” G P Singh, Director of Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) He said the report that he has got from the fields indicate that 99 percent of the standing crop hasn’t been impacted and whatever damage might have happened could be in the mandis where farmers have stored their produce for selling.

In western Uttar Pradesh, where wheat is sown late after harvesting of sugarcane, Singh said that there could be some reports of water lodging in fields, but here too impact should not be much.

“In some mandis of Haryana, wheat bags have been damaged but they have been laying there for quite some time as the moisture content in them was around 15-16 percent as against the permissible 12 per cent,” Singh said.

He said the Government had advised farmers not to bring wheat with high moisture content to the mandis for selling, but still farmers were bringing the semi-matured crop.

“Nonetheless, if we get good sunshine for few hours daily, the moisture content will go down,” Singh added.

“In chana too we haven’t so far received any big news of damage to standing crop as rains have been in patches. Also, chana prices dipped yesterday which also shows that there have not been reports of any big damage,” Bimal Kothari, vice president of Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) said.He added, in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, most of the chana has been harvested and if it would have been in fields then the rains would have caused some damage, but that is not the case.

But, vegetable farmers in Nasik-Solapur and Satara belt of Maharashtra aren’t that lucky.

Preliminary reports show that there has been some impact on the standing tomatoes, cauliflower crops in these areas.

“High moisture content increases the chances of fungi in tomatoes and cauliflower and lowers their market value,” Sriram Gadve, President of Vegetable Growers’ Association of India (VGAI) said.

Gadve said there could be damages in mangoes as small-sized fruits drop due to heavy winds while in plants which are at the flowering stage could also get impacted.

“There is a possibility of a strong western disturbance developing in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the next few days which might lead to unseasonal rains and gusty winds till April 12th. There would be early morning and late afternoon bursts of rains in the northern plains for a duration of 1-2 hours,” Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at private weather forecasting agency Skymet said.

“The pre-monsoon activity has now shifted towards the eastern regions of the country, while in northern parts situation could remain volatile till April 12,” Palawat said.

Veena Sharma, Secretary, Roller Flour Millers Association of India, said the rains have a bad impact on the crop affecting both quality and the crop size. “We fear that the crop size would come down to a great extent,” she said.

In North Gujarat, farmers said hailstorm and rains have impacted wheat and pulses crops. The increase in the moisture level in the crop will hurt the quality fetching lower prices in the market.

Saurashtra has witnessed heavy showers.

“The major crops that are being harvested at present are wheat, onion, garlic and pulses, besides sesame. Crop condition may worsen further as the weather department has predicted more rains in the next 48 hours. This will spoil the wheat seeds and also onion,” said Vitthal Dudhatara, Secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh.

Gujarat’s agriculture officer based in Jam Khambhaliya stated that weather condition is bad for the harvest.

“We suspect more than 20 per cent damage to the crop wherever it has rained in the crop-harvest stage. At several places, wheat arrivals have started in Saurashtra. The crop, which was harvested and not stored in a shed properly, would be completely spoiled,” he said.

“The rains might distort wheat quality and flour millers may require more quality wheat for their blending needs. It will accentuate the need to have more imports to the tune of 2-2.5 million tonnes this year,” said Amit Bharadwaj, CEO of Level A Commodities.

Meanwhile, the government agencies have procured 1.93 mt so far in the current marketing year as against 2.07 lt in the corresponding peroid last year.

Bulk of the procurement has happened in Madhya Pradesh, say the latest numbers from the Food Ministry.

The Government has fixed wheat procurement target at 32 mt for 2018-19 marketing year, as against last year’s 30.8 mt.

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