Nearly 400 000 hectares (1 million acres) of rabi crops across many parts of North India were ravaged by unseasonal downpours, hailstorms, and strong winds this month. Millions of growers are affected, particularly those from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Among the crops badly hit are wheat, potato, rapeseed, and chickpea. Most farmers were stunned by the recurring rain and hail that has struck fields filled with mature crops, raising concerns about the degradation of quality.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, one of the worst-affected states, said their crops have suffered extensive and irreversible damage.
"The government is yet to assess the damage, and by the time the farmers get any compensation from the government, it will be too late," said Sudhir Panwar, chief of Kisan Jagriti Manch farmers group, who are one of the millions of farmers afflicted by the situation.
In Punjab, the exact figure of the damage is yet to be disclosed, but farmer Ramandeep Singh Mann said there was severe damage to wheat in many districts, including Fazilka, Patiala, Sangrur, and Amritsar.
In Rajasthan, rain and hail ravaged the rapeseed crop which accounts for more than half of the country's rapeseed output. Moreover, the crop also suffered significant damage in Madhya Pradesh.
Unseasonal downpours also hit potato and chickpea, leaving farmers suffering in the northern and even in some central parts of India.
"Even the farmers who have been able to salvage their crops, will find it difficult to get reasonable prices due to quality issues," said Uttar Pradesh farm leader Dharmendra Malik.
The India Meteorological Agency (IMD) forecast 'scattered to fairly widespread rainfall' in Odisha, West Bengal, Sikkim, and Jharkhand from Wednesday to Friday, March 18 to 20, as well as Chhattisgarh, east Madhya Pradesh, and Vidarbha. Unseasonal rains are expected to continue affecting rabi crops in those states.
Featured image credit: Gavin Edmondstone/Flickr