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Rain, hailstorm flatten wheat crop over 53K hectares in dist

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Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, March 22

After unprecedented heat that feared shriveling of grains, heavy rains coupled with gusty winds and hailstorm during the past week have poured misery on a large number of farmers in Ludhiana district, the government has confirmed.

With the peasants of the district staring at losses, preliminary estimates have revealed that standing wheat crop on at least 53,000 hectares, which constitute almost 22 per cent of the total area under wheat, was flattened due to inundating of the fields and lodging while at least 3 per cent of the ready-to-ripe cereal grain plants were feared damaged.

However, the halt in rain since Tuesday and sunny weather on Wednesday and Tuesday have revived hopes of the majority of affected farmers with the inundated fields being drained out through various means and the flattened crop being lifted again.

Taking cognisance of the situation, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had on Tuesday ordered girdawari to assess the damage to wheat crop due to inclement weather and rain across the state.

Acting on the directions, revenue and agriculture officials began field visits on Wednesday to meet the affected farmers and make on-the-spot assessment of the damage caused to the staple food in various parts of the district.

A visit to various parts of the district revealed that the wheat crop in vast areas of fields has fallen flat while the rainwater that had caused lodging and flooding of the fields has almost receded in most pockets across 11 blocks in the district.

“We have suffered huge losses due to the rain, hail and thunderstorm,” an octogenarian farmer in Samrala Maan Singh told The Tribune.

Another peasant Shamsher Singh in Sidhwan Bet said most of his crop, which was ready to be harvested, on over 10 acres had flattened.

“After suffering due to intense heat till recently, now the rain, gusty winds and hailstorm have poured misery on us,” shared a progressive farmer, Harwinder Singh, in Pakhowal.

Ajmer Singh, who had cultivated wheat crop over 15 acres in Khanna, blamed the government and official machinery of rendering no help so far.

“Again, we have been left to fend for ourselves. Similar was our plight when we suffered losses in paddy cultivation and now our wheat crop has also fallen prey to inclement weather,” rued a small peasant, Kuldeep Singh, who was upset watching his flattened wheat crop over 2 acres in Machhiwara.

Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik said the district administration would assess the exact loss to the wheat crop due to the inclement weather and send a detailed report to the government. “We will extend full support and help to the affected farmers, as per the decision of the government,” she added.

Chief Agriculture Officer Narinder Singh Benipal claimed extending all possible help and assistance to the rain-hit farmers. “Our teams are visiting the fields and meeting the peasants to assess loss, besides offering requisite support,” he asserted, adding that the complete field assessment report would be submitted shortly.

Wheat area at five-year low

The area under wheat cultivation during the current season was at its lowest ever in Ludhiana district since 2017.

From 2.52 lakh hectares, which in the past five years remained the maximum area under the main Rabi crop, in 2017-18, the area under cereal grain cultivation had declined to 2.43 lakh hectares in the district for the current rabi season.

The past trend of the area under wheat cultivation showed that from 2.51 lakh hectares in 2015-16,

it had come down to 2.5 lakh hectares in 2016-17, but went up to the highest

of 2.52 lakh hectares in 2017-18, before again decreasing to 2.51 lakh hectares in 2018-19, further declining to 2.5 lakh hectares in 2019-20, 2.49 lakh hectares in 2020-21, 2.44 lakh hectares in

2021-22 and settling down to the five-year low of

2.43 lakh hectares for the current rabi season 2022-23 in the district.

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