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Unseasonal rains and hailstorm damaged standing Rabi crops in nearly 50,000 hectares

Unseasonal rains and hailstorm damaged standing Rabi crops in nearly 50,000 hectares
Nagpur: Unseasonal rains and hailstorm damaged standing Rabi crops in nearly 50,000 hectares of land impacting one lakh farmers in Vidarbha this year, even as farmer suicides continued unabated in the region, deepening the agrarian crisis there.

According to revenue department officials, about 49,042 hectares in the region was affected in March due to rain and hailstorm including 28,233 hectares in Western Vidarbha which comprises five districts in Amravati division.

Similarly, the total number of farmers affected in the entire suicide-prone region was estimated to be around 98,384, the highest being 54,962 farmers in six districts of Nagpur division in Eastern Vidarbha, official sources said after revenue authorities conducted a survey for losses in both Amravati and Nagpur division recently.

"Yavatmal district often described as the 'suicide capital' of Vidarbha topped the list with about 11,066 hectares of crop particularly wheat suffering more than 50 percent damage in the rains. The number of affected farmers was estimated to be 6,567," Ravindra Thakre, Deputy Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) who monitored the survey told PTI.

Yavatmal district was followed by Amravati with 7,7551 hectares and 16,173 farmers being affected. While in Washim and Akola districts about 4,177 hectares with 15,145 farmers and 3,518 hectares with 4,216 farmers were placed in the affected category respectively, Thakre said.

On the horticulture front, oranges, sweet lime and pomegranate crops were destroyed in 933.16 hectares and 1119 fruit-growers were affected, he said.

The situation in Eastern Vidarbha comprising six districts in Nagpur division too was far from better. Wheat, Jawas and Lakhodi in about 18,468 hectares of land suffered damages affecting 51,546 farmers.

Nagpur district was the worst-hit with 9794.37 hectares of crop getting affected but in terms of number of farmers, Gondia occupied the top spot with 24,477 farmers suffering huge losses in 7092.87 hectares of land.

Bhandara also recorded damages in 1,581.53 hectares and the number of affected farmers stood at 11,718.

Oranges, Mangoes, Banana, Papaya crops were damaged in 2,340.87 hectares and abut 3,416 horticulturists were affected, Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, Pradeep Dange said.

Meanwhile, reports of suicides in the region continued to pour in as farm activists claimed that more than 400 distressed farmers have ended their lives between January 1 and April 4 this year.

President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), Kishore Tiwari, an advocacy group of farmers told PTI that about 445 farmers have committed suicides in last four months.

About four lakh farmers are in acute distress and are in need of farm loan waiver and food security, Tiwari claimed adding that about 10 lakh hectares of Rabi and four lakh in Kharif season was damaged due to to untimely rains.

The state government should implement Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee report which has recommended food and health security to farmers, he demanded.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had described farmer suicides as a national shame, Tiwari said quoting him adding that in the last 15 years, about 11,000 farmers have ended their lives.

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