Kopar Khairane

Farmers in Himachal are paying a price for unpredictable weather; crop losses are estimated to be above Rs 100 crore

Farmers in Himachal Pradesh have experienced significant losses to their seasonal crops and plants as a result of changing weather patterns that have resulted in dry winters and rainy summers.

According to statistics from the state emergency operation center, the total loss in agricultural crops and horticulture plants up till May 9 of this year was projected to be roughly Rs 104 crore — 40.60 crore for farm crops and 63.42 crore for horticultural plants.

A prolonged dry spell after sowing of wheat seeds in winter followed by untimely rains during the summer harvest season led to huge losses for the state's wheat farmers, State Agriculture Director Rajesh Kaushik said. With a goal yield of 6.17 lakh metric tons, wheat is harvested over 3.30 lakh hectares in the state.

The unpredictable summer weather caught apple growers off guard as well, resulting in insufficient chilling times for the apples. It was challenging to retain the moisture needed for high-quality apples due to the little rain and snowfall. In addition, while the lack of heat impacts the size of the apples, hailstorms in April and May had an influence on their development, according to Harish Chauhan, president of the Fruit Vegetable Flower Growers Association, who spoke to PTI.

The traditional apple varieties need between 800 and 1,200 chilling hours. However, he noted that the low-chilling variants had shorter hours. According to Chauhan, who also noted that apples are cultivated over more than 94,000 hectares in the state, this year might witness a loss of 30 to 40% compared to the 3.52 crore boxes of apples produced in 2022–23.

Himachal Pradesh saw a shortfall of 37% during the winter season from January 1 to February 28 compared to the seasonal normal of 187.1 mm, which was over 100% last December.

On the other hand, 12 per cent surplus rainfall pounded the state during the pre-monsoon season from March 1 to May 10 with 222.4 mm rain against the normal of 199.4 mm.

Lahaul, Spiti, and Kinnaur districts had snowfall during the first nine days of May, while the lower and central parts of the mountainous state saw widespread mild to heavy rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms, lightning, hail, and strong winds.

When May weather data from the previous 36 years were compared, it was discovered that the greatest maximum temperature to date was 36 degrees Celsius on May 8 at Una, while the lowest minimum temperature was minus 2.6 degrees Celsius on May 9 at Keylong.

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