As Dry Spells and Untimely Rains Hit Farmers, How Helpful Is the PM Crop Insurance Scheme?

As Dry Spells and Untimely Rains Hit Farmers, How Helpful Is the PM Crop Insurance Scheme?

‘The government is handing out Rs 5000 per farmer, irrespective of whether the farmer has one acre of land or 10.’

Climate chaos has struck Indian farmers again.

This time, it has come as untimely and excessive rainfalls in many parts of central and western India. Earlier this year, the Rabi wheat harvests were short due to heat waves and untimely rain, especially in Punjab and Haryana. These pushed our government to ban wheat exports. But now an unstable monsoon has exacerbated farmers troubles.

Major dryland crops such as soybean, urad (black gram legume), moong (green gram) and bajra (pearl millet) appear to have suffered major losses this year.

Different agro-climatic zones where these crops are grown have all been hit with excessive rainfall, which has resulted in partial – and in many places, total – loss of the Kharif crop. The fertile belt of Kota extending into Madhya Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh have received more than usual rain, which has directly impacted oilseed crops like til (sesame) too.

In the south, excessive rainfall was reported in Kalyana Karnataka and Bombay Karnataka regions, resulting in damage to about 11 lakh hectares of standing crops. These include bajra, chilly, jowar, legumes, oilseeds, and so on.

Overall, India’s paddy sowing deficit is about 4.52%, because of prolonged dry spells and untimely weak rainfall throughout the country. Over 91 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, all major paddy areas, have reported drought.

Labourers harvest paddy in the Paliganj, Bihar. Photo: Umesh Kumar Ray

To take stock of the current crisis, we spoke with the director  of ICAR-Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Sushil Kumar Singh, about the rainfall and crop losses.

“We are getting reports of crops damages to urad, soybean, moong and til in many areas. For example, the black soil region of Kota region received over 400 mm of excessive rainfall this year. The neighbouring Jhalawar is cut off, because of heavy rains. Except for some paddy farmers, all other corps have been affected, and as per reports, 20% of the urad has been lost. As much as 15%-20% of the soybean is also lost because of the rainfall. There are also reports from Jaipur-Ajmer belt where excessive rain and water logging has destroyed the til crop,” Singh explained.

Til and soybean farmers in Madhya Pradesh and drier parts of Uttar Pradesh do indeed report crop losses due to rainfall. In fact, moong farmers across the central heartland have reported seed loss due to the rainfall. Meanwhile, in the Jodhpur belt, moong farmers seem to be affected with a different problem.

“Due to rainfall, the acreage under moong has grown, but we saw extra vegetative growth in these plants, which will result in lesser per plant yield. Rajasthan’s overall production may increase as more acreage is under moong, but the per acre yields will be hit,” Singh warned.

Speaking of dryland crops, we also spoke with Bajra farmers in Rewari-Mahendragarh, who have reported crop losses. They foretell a below average bajra harvest this year. “The late monsoon and excessive heat this year has resulted in 20-25% loss. Ours is a monsoon-dependent bajra belt. Some of the farmers had to mulch their bajra, because it was damaged or didn’t fruit well. Keep in mind that some farmers had sowed bajra three times, and yet had crops failed,” said Sanjeev Yadav from Rewari. Yadav grows bajra on four acres of land.

Also read: Drought and Sudden Rain Lead to Catastrophic Losses Among Paddy Farmers in Kashmir Valley

S.K. Singh, while unalarmed by bajra reports from Haryana, explained the Rajasthan scenario with slight concern. “Bajra grows well in sandy soil belts like Barmer, Jalore, Jodhpur and so on. Due to no August rains in these areas, the crop may be slightly affected. But overall bajra production in Rajasthan will be good. Of course, there are crop losses in areas hit by excessive rains,” he said.

There have also been sporadic reports of post-harvest bajra losses. After harvest, many farmers keep the bajra on the fields, exposed to the open sky. With untimely rain, many of the bajra lots risk being exposed to black fungal rot.

Farmers in the Kota area offer a grim picture. Vansh Singh, a progressive farmer, says there has been little help. “Soybean, maize, urad are heavy affected in Bundi, Kota, and Jhalawar areas. Some farmers I met have reported 50% crop losses. It is quite evident our region is suffering, yet government help is not reaching all,” he said.

cloud seeding, climate geoengineering, weather modification, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Varshadhare, India Meteorological Department, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, CAIPEEX, hygroscopic seeding, glaciogenic seeding, potassium chloride, calcium chloride,

Vansh alleged that limited number of people were given compensation, whereas the rest were left to fend for themselves.

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