Odisha tops country in crop loss due to natural calamities

Odisha has seen crop damages in an area covering a whopping 5.4 lakh hectare in 2018-19 till mid-May & the value of loss is pegged at over Rs 1,950 crore. ....The per hectare loss borne by farmers works out at around Rs 36,600/hect

Bhubaneswar: With two very severe cyclones (Titli, Fani) ravaging the State in a span of nearly eight months, the shocker is Odisha has seen the highest crop damages in the country owing to natural disasters in 2018-19 .

As per data available with the Union Government, Odisha has seen crop damages in an area covering a whopping 5.4 lakh hectare till mid May 2019. As such a large farmland stood affected by disasters, Odisha topped the dubious list of States in the country that saw maximum crop loss in 2018-19. Interestingly, in 2017-18, Odisha saw crop loss in mere 0.42 lakh hectares.

In the last half-decade, this was the second highest crop damage owing to natural disasters in Odisha, after 2013-14 (Phailin year).

The estimated crop loss in 2018-19 till mid-May has been pegged at over Rs 1,950 crore vis-a-vis of Rs 3,850 crore in 2013-14 (Phailin Year).

However, as per Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Saurabh Garg, the crop loss value will be revised upwards as Fani saw destruction of Rabi crops, which are cost intensive in nature. “The crop loss amount in 2018-19 may be equivalent to Phailin loss,” he observed.

Significantly, when the total pegged loss value was converted to the unit of cost of cultivation per hectare, the loss in cost of cultivation per hectare for farmers in Odisha then boils down to around Rs 36, 600 in 2018-19. This fact reveals farmers in Odisha accrued a loss of at least around Rs 36, 600 per hectare owing to natural disasters.

The caveat here is the loss per hectare could amount to more, when the exact loss quantity of moong and rice become clear. Because, the cost of production of moong (green gram) is nearly three-times that of Rabi paddy.

Post Fani, the farm distress in Odisha could well be imagined as the State has around 32lakh households with farming as principal income source, and a whopping 72 per cent of them has farm land of around 1 hectare only.

Moreover, data with State-Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) further reveals that average amount of crop loans borrowed in 2018-19 by farmers in Odisha were estimated at around Rs 50,000 per farmer household.

At this juncture, the fact to note is the State’s Government’s KALIA scheme where Rs 5,000 per farmer households in Kharif and Rabi is not going to suffice the heavy loss. Because, the loss per hectare has been pegged at around Rs 36, 600 and the State government hasn’t announced any package to deal with the debt of farmers in the Fani-hit region.

Farmers in Odisha are in a deep economic crisis. As per the data available with the State Government’s Department of Economic and Statistics (DES), real income of farmers has dwindled over the years in Odisha.

The total value of their crop products has dipped by around 5 per cent to around Rs 26,849 crore in 2016-17 from over Rs 28,440 crore in 2012-13 at 2011-12 prices. This shows the real income of crop-farmers in the State has eroded during last half-decade.

Another important indicator to take note of is the contribution of net value added by crops to total Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) of Odisha during last half decade has dipped to 10.6 per cent in 2016-17 from nearly 12 per cent in 2011-12.

In the context, the Fani cyclone seems to have aggravated the economic crisis of farmers in coastal Odisha.