Off-season rain leaves State farmers in dire straits

Off-season rain leaves State farmers in dire straits

The record off-season rainfall with hailstorm, which the State received in almost all districts in the first week of March leaving a trail of destruction, has rendered the farmers a distressed lot.

The farming fraternity, which was expecting a bounteous harvest of grapes, pomegranates, mangoes and tomatoes following copious rainfall in 2013, is shattered that the off-season rain has put paid to their prospects. 

The Department of Horticulture, which began an assessment of crop damage, has estimated that 9,800 hectares of horticulture crops have been destroyed in Belgaum, Bijapur and Bagalkot districts.

Department of Horticulture Director D L Maheshwar said they had not expected such a record rainfall, especially in drier areas like Bagalkot, Bijapur and Challakere, where the damage has been enormous.

Stating that vegetables such as drumsticks ready for harvest, too, were destroyed, he said teams have been formed to assess the situation and a report on the extent of the loss and destruction is expected in a couple of days.

Mango, a seasonal crop saw a huge productivity in 2013. But with the March rainfall in both Karnataka and Maharashtra, the yield is expected to shrink further, according to horticulture experts, in turn, leading to rise in its price. Likewise, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum and Koppal boast of thousands of acres of grape vineyards, while pomegranate is a staple crop in the southern Karnataka regions of Chitradurga, Sira, Davangere, Tumkur as also in Koppal, Bagalkot, Bijapur, parts of Belgaum, Gadag and other places.
Terming the pre-monsoon showers as not an uncommon phenomenon, Meteorological Department Director B Puttanna said hailstorm was caused due to the dissolution of cloud at a higher elevation, where the temperature will be cooler than minus zero.

Rainfall is 3,000 times more than normal during this time in the North Karnataka region. Nearly 18.2 mm rainfall has been recorded in 11 districts altogether. In southern Karnataka, where the rainfall is normally expected to be 2.1 mm, it has been 16.1 mm, which is 650 times more, he said. The temperature will return to normal in the next 48 hours across the State.