As if the devastation caused to the paddy and vegetable crops by cyclone ‘Jawad’ induced heavy rain was not enough, the recent two-day-long downpour triggered by a trap-line has dealt a severe blow to the farmers in the State.
One of the severely affected districts is Bhadrak. In the district, paddy was cultivated in 1,60,000 hectares, and in Basudevpur block alone, the total area covered under paddy cultivation was 32,239 hectares. Seeing the undulating crops in their fields, the farmers were delighted, hoping for a bumper harvest. They were about to harvest the crops as 90 percent of the total crops were ready when the cyclone-induced rain played the spoilsport. And the recent trap-line rain proved to be the last blow.
As of now, the situation has come to such a pass that in many places, the plants are lying wilted in flooded fields and, in some places, the ripe paddy on plants have started sprouting.
The pictures emerging from Balasore district are all the more pathetic. The ready-to-harvest paddy can be seen wilted in flooded water in fields in areas like Bhogarai, Jaleswar, Basta, Baliapal and Soro. The farmers’ hope of harvesting crops and bringing them home is getting thinner by the day.
Believing in ‘something is better than nothing’, in some areas, farmers can be seen being busy harvesting the drenched paddy and laying them out in sun to dry.
The farmers across the affected areas share a common fear-their families will die of starvation if the government doesn’t provide immediate succor to them. “We suffered huge losses last year. This year, we took loans to grow crops. The unseasonal rain has hit us hard. We will get nothing from our fields. We request officials to visit our areas to see for themselves the ground situation,” a farmer of Basudevpur area said.
When contacted, Agriculture Officer of Soro, Udit Kumar Ray said, “As per the direction of the district Collector, a survey, jointly conducted by the Revenue, Agriculture and Horticulture departments, is underway. The field staff of the departments are doing assessment. We will submit the report to the Collector in a day or two.”
The unseasonal rain damaged not just the paddy crop but the vegetables crop too. Kendrapara and Jajpur districts can be taken as examples. In Aul area of Kendrapara district, cauliflower and radish in acres of lands lying submerged in water will make one cry. The mental condition of the farmers who have grown those can easily be imagined. With an aim to get at least something, they are presently uprooting their crop. In Rasulpur area in Jajpur district, farmers can be seen releasing water manually from their fields. They said if the water is drained out, some crops can at least be saved.
“I cultivated pointed gourds, brinjals, yard long beans and cauliflower. All my efforts have gone down the drain. I will get nothing. As of now, the prospect of meeting my family expenses has been hunting me,” complained a vegetable grower in Aul area.
The distraught farmers of Dharakote tehsil in Ganjam district on Friday staged a demonstration at the Tehsil office, demanding compensations of Rs20,000 per acre for paddy crops and Rs25,000 per acre for non-paddy crops.
One week has passed since the Revenue Minister announced that the compensation money would be provided to the affected farmers as per the relief code after receiving the crop damage assessment reports from the district Collectors. The farmers are still waiting for the day when the succor will reach them.