Shimla: Putting the loss from hail and other natural calamities to apple crop in Shimla hills, where an anti-hail gun pilot experiment is being tried out, at Rs 137 crore, officials said that results of the experiment were inconclusive but encouraging.
Talking to the media, Gurdev Singh, director horticulture said that results of the anti-hail gun experiment being tried since April, 2011 in Jubbal & Kotkhai area were encouraging and the efficacy would only be known after analyzing two years of trial period results.
He said that the project had been allotted on a turnkey basis to an American company, Newton Cannons International who had installed three at the villages of Khatasu, Deorighat and Badayghat with a central radar system at Kharapathar for Rs 2.89 crore.
He said that the guns had been successful in containing formation of hail clouds over the 1 square kilometer impact area in the sky but where hail laden clouds from across the valley drifted into the gun impact zone, they could not prevent the area being pounded and crops being damaged.
“Badayghat site was hit several times by hail, Doerighat and Khatasu were hit by one hailstorm each,” said Singh.
The experiment was being tired for the first time in India and the results were being studied by experts. Only if success is achieved would the experiment being extended to other areas, he added.
Claiming partial success of the experiment Christopher Jones, representative of Newton Cannons who was present said that in USA the orchard owner preferred investing in anti-hail guns instead of taking up crop insurance.
“For the guns to effective there needed to be 60 cannons over 100 acres of orchards,” said Jones. The technology was being extensively used in the states of Oregon, Michigan and California as well as in the countries of New Zealand and Mexico, he added.
Singh put the fruit crop losses in the state for the year due to hail and other natural calamities at Rs 347 crore. He said that in 2010 the state had a record production of 8.92 lakh tons and had recorded a yield of 11 metric tons per acre, which was the highest on record.