Smoking anti-hail gun leaves apple growers counting losses

Shimla: Even as the horticulture department is yet to experiment the efficacy of anti-hail guns in warding off the calamity and saving crops, last weeks hailstorms have left behind a trail of damaged fruit crops across many fruit and vegetable growing belts, dashing hopes of many farmers.

To assess the losses, revenue minister Gulab Singh Thakur has asked the department to do a quick survey and place a damage report with 10 days.

“Reports about hail damage to fruit crops are pouring in each day and I have asked revenue commissioner to assess the losses within 10 days so that the government could take necessary steps,” said Thakur.

Dismayed by the government plans, Amar Singh, an hail hit orchard owner from Rampur block said, “even after two years when the anti hail gun measure was proposed, the government has not tried it out on an experimental basis even and with there being no crop insurance for hail damage, we are at the brutal mercy of nature.”

Heavy fruit losses have been reported in apple orchards in Gopalpur and Guara in Rampur, Kotgarh, Karsog, Kotkhai, Nither and Nirmand in Kullu, Rohru, Chirgaon and several other areas. Vegetable growers in Theog, Mashobra and part of Solan are also counting their losses.

Ten days ago, the horticulture minister Narinder Bragta had put out a preliminary apple production estimate at about 2.5 crore boxes that could fall short after the fresh damage count is completed.

Based on weather conditions that precipitate hailstorms, the anti-hail gun devices fire a gas into the clouds to dissolve the hail forming conditions.

The state government proposed to try out such a gun in 2008 and is scouting for a suitable location to carry out the trial that may only fruity for the next summer, said Amar Singh.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

1 Comment

  • Comment by a reader who did not want to be identified…….

    I read this today: http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/apple-growers-shocked-as-anti-hail-guns-fail-in-shimla/409138.html

    It might be of entertainment for your readers to know that the entire business of hail-guns is a scam from start to finish. The history of the hail guns can be found on the net. It is completely bogus nonsense. The Austrian government spent a good deal of time investigating the matter and conclusively proved that there is no effect from hail guns what-so-ever. I did a little investigation when the HP government was buying hail-guns from NZ. It was all done through a cousin of the minister in Auckland. A very dubious deal indeed. They paid something like Rs 4 crore for a set of machines worth something like 60 K NZ$ (About Rs 30 lakhs @ 45 INR to 1 NZ$). Complete scam.

    Naturally the growers are finding out that they are fools. Not something they will be pleased to learn, but bitter facts are simply facts.

    A short looking up of hail guns on the net provides masses of material. It is a complete hoax.

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