‘Rs 20000 cr worth crops lost due to Feb-Apr unseasonal rains’

New Delhi: Farmers have lost more than 10 million tonnes of rabi crops, valued at above Rs 20,000 crore, due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm in February-April this year, CSE said in a report.

India may have to import 10 lakh tonnes of wheat in 2015-16 as about 68.2 lakh tonnes were lost due to unseasonal rainfall, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in its report, titled ‘Lived Anomaly’.

In February-April 2015, standing crops on 182.38 lakh hectares or 29.61 per cent of the entire rabi sown area were affected. Six-seven per cent of this was wheat crop.

“The fall in production of major foodgrain crops was about 86.3 lakh tonnes, this translated to a loss of Rs 15,777 crore worth of foodgrains. A fall in production of oil seeds by 14.1 lakh tonnes meant an additional loss of Rs 4,676 crore. The total economic loss was about Rs 20,453 crore,” CSE said.

As per CSE estimates, 40 per cent of the wheat cultivated area, 14 per cent of area under pulses and oil seeds, and four per cent of coarse cereals were affected by rain and hailstorm.

“…Let’s look at in terms of how much was the loss and we spent some time in converting crop loss into monetary figure taking just the minimum support price and if you look at this figure…Excluding the horticulture loss, Rs 20,000 crore just for food grains and oilseeds…,” CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said.

It also emphasised that Indian farmers are reeling under extreme weather events and need protective measures to ensure that India’s largest occupational sector-agriculture-does not decline further.

A team of CSE experts also investigated the effectiveness of response measures-existing relief and compensation mechanisms in the country for farmers affected by such extreme weather events.

“We are seeing an increased severity and frequency of extreme weather events. Farmers in India are facing the double blow of agrarian distress and extreme weather events as a result of climate change. A series of measures including better protection mechanisms are needed to support them,” CSE Director General Sunita Narain said.

The primary culprit seems to be a weather system called the Western Disturbances but their are other culprits too, the warming of Tibetan plateau is one such, she added.

The report also highlighted the need for urgent reforms in the agrarian sector, given the expected increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, and cites instances of advancements in crop damage assessment and crop insurance schemes that are more attractive to farmers.