Hailstorm destroys fruits of labour

The trouble seems far from over. Drought, untimely rain, flood and now hailstorm, the vegetable growers of western Odisha cannot but blame their fate. For the last three days, the region has been experiencing rain with reports of hailstorm being received from Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Bargarh besides Sambalpur. While the storm has left watermelon growers of Deogarh district devastated, in other three districts except for chillies and brinjals all other vegetable crops, including cauliflower, tomato, cabbage, spinach, coriander leaves, onion, cow peas, and other leafy vegetables have been completely damaged.

While Deogarh district had carved out a niche for itself in fruit production with mango, litchi and watermelon even making way to overseas markets, the rain has cost the farmers dearly. The fruits have developed poke marks and farmers are apprehensive of the produce getting spoiled in the next few days.

With rain lashing the region just ahead of the harvesting season, the worst-affected areas are Suguda, Badchapal, Cheplipali, Subanpali, Kutrapoashi gram panchayats in Tileibani Block, Kandhal, Madhyapur, Raitabahal, Rambhei and Balam in Barkote block.

It is believed that about 1,000 farmers, who had availed of loans from Societies and traders, have been badly hit.

The situation is no different in Bargarh where cauliflower is being sold at Rs 2 to 3 a kg and tomato at Rs 3 to 4. The price of other vegetables is quite low with local marginal producers selling their produce directly to the consumers. The condition is equally grim in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts.

Deputy Director, Horticulture, S C Pradhan admitted to widespread loss of vegetables with Bargarh, Deogarh and Sambalpur bearing the burnt. He said the district administrations have been asked to conduct a survey and submit a report on the losses in a week.

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