Shimla:Summer rains may have eased drinking water woes across urban and rural habitations but the storms that lashed the hilly regions over the past three days were accompanied by hailstones and have left behind a trail of damaged fruit and off-season vegetable crops.
Horticulture minister Narinder Bragta put the overall loss because of adverse climatic conditions at about Rs 300 crore. He said that about Rs 229 crore loss was on apple, Rs 53 crore on mangoes and other fruits.
â€œAs much as 30 percent of the apple crop has been damaged in the recent storms,â€ says Lekh Raj Chauhan, president of Himachal Apple Growers Association. â€œThe government has so far not taken any steps to assess the damage and no relief has been marked out, he added.
Government officials who are not authorized to speak to the media on conditions of anonymity concurred that about 1.5 lakh tons of apples has been estimated to have suffered damage because of hail. â€œAdverse climate conditions have already lowered production targets, said the official adding, against a production of 80 thousand tons, the crop is Kullu valley this year is estimated at about 45 thousand tons. Data for Shimla, Kinnaur and other districts is yet to be tabulated, he said.
â€œChanging climatic patterns is rendering fruit production an economically unviable proposition,â€ says Chauhan. Stretching income from one yearâ€™s crop over three years because of subsequent crop failures renders the activity unsustainable, he said.
To save fruits from hail damage we are looking at acquiring hail guns that are fired into the threatening cloud system and have proved effective in European nations, said Bragta. He said that the state government has written to the central government seeking relief under the relief manual.
To secure the farmer, the government was working for bringing fruit crops under crop insurance scheme. We have held one set of meetings and the next round would work out the modalities to be applied and then the crop insurance scheme for fruit crops could be launched, said Bragta.