The mid-summer drizzle and hailstorms may have dropped temperatures and made the heat manageable, but the crops in the State have been badly damaged. Though this isn’t unusual, denizens are afraid this might spell an increase in the price of fruits and vegetables.
Unseasonal heavy rains lashed the State on several occasions this summer, and in turn damaged thousands of hectares of crop. What is worse is that the due to late flowering, the harvest hasn’t been much either this year. The worst affected district is Karimnagar with 4,146 hectares affected with under 40 per cent damage and 1,028 hectares of crop damaged over 50 per cent.
Through 18 districts, the damage has been a massive 8,214 hectares with less than 50 per cent damage and 12,218.69 hectares with over 50 per cent damage.
“With the prices of vegetables already soaring, the damage will only force the vendors to up their prices even more to meet with the losses. The consumers will have to pay a heavy price,” said P Parvathi, a housewife from Punjagutta.
“The price of the vegetables will not increase and won’t fluctuate either. It will be stable unless the export of fruits and vegetables to Karnataka, Mumbai or Delhi increases. As compared to last year around the same time, the incoming fruits are less this season,” consoled Yoginder, assistant director (disaster management), department of horticulture.
However, since this is the season of the king of fruits—mango, the damage has been as high as 20 per cent. Even the mango vendors are concerned about incurring losses due to the unseasonal rainfall in addition to the GO 288 passed on March 19, stating that the mangoes ripened with calcium carbide are banned and only those ripened naturally or with ethylene should be sold. Obviously, being more expensive, the farmers haven’t welcomed this move.
“We are already incurring losses due to the mid-summer rains, and adding to the new rule of ripening mangoes, it is hard for most of us to sustain. The government doesn’t bail us out financially and neither does it lend us a helping hand. I have lost out on at least `2 lakhs worth of mangoes till now due to the hailstorms,” said Baalachamdram, a mango vendor at the Mango Mela being held in Nampally Exhibition Grounds.
Maalavya, a fruit vendor in Shantinagar, said that he has had to incur about `30,000 worth of loses due to the rains. “I have leased out about 1,500 mango trees in Karimnagar and about 600 of them have been spoilt. I have taken a personal loan and with the stress of paying back, I don’t know what to do. I am praying that the rain don’t lash the State for another month or two,” he said.
Again, Karimnagar mango crops have been the worst hit with 4,081.4 hectares with under 50 per cent damage and 990 hectares with damage of over 50 per cent. But the highest damage for mango crops over 50 per cent was Warrangal with 4,752.24 hectares.
Not surprisingly, the department of horticulture has done little to help the farmers. Only the crops damaged above 50 per cent have been given a prescribed amount as compensation. “We have a plan for droughts, but with the rains, we can’t do anything. We only advice farmers to sell their crops immediately as any further delay will make them unusable,” he said.