BERHAMPUR: With dark clouds hovering over Ganjam skyline on Thursday, panicked farmers resorted to crop cutting and shifting of harvested paddy to safer places.
Following warnings of heavy rain due to low pressure, farmers of Chikiti and Patrapur in the district have even engaged their children in harvesting and shifting of paddy stalks, while some are threshing paddy using machines on the road. They have left no stone unturned to keep it properly stacked under suitable cover so as to avoid any loss due to another spell of rain.
This year, farmers had hoped for a bumper harvest, but the expectations were shattered due to pest attack and untimely rain. A fresh spell of rain could spell trouble for farmers who have already suffered massive crop loss due to low rainfall and subsequent pest attack.
On the other hand, the compensation declared by the State Government after pest attack is yet to reach the affected farmers in the district. Delay in payment of compensation has posed serious problems for farmers as they would repay their crop loan after kharif season.
Sources said the district administration had prepared a crop loss report and estimated around 20,024 hectares (ha) of land in 1,643 villages of 16 blocks and six NAC areas affected by pests. Later, the State Government released a sum of `24.49 crore to compensate the victim farmers. While the amount was about to be distributed, unseasonal rain lashed the district for four days and standing ripened paddy and vegetables got damaged as the rainwater submerged the crop fields.
Subsequently, the district administration entrusted the revenue and agriculture officials to assess the crop loss due to rain. According to emergency department sources, a report of crop loss in 96,233 ha was prepared and sent to the State Special Relief Commissioner. The report stated that a total of 3,54,86 farmers in 2,853 villages and 17 NACs of the district sustained crop loss.
“We have a bumper crop this year. If untimely rain happens again, the ready-to-harvest paddy crop will definitely be affected. We are keeping our fingers crossed and praying that the rain does not affect us,” said a farmer.
Meanwhile, the BJP and several farmers’ organisations have staged demonstrations in front of block offices in the district demanding immediate payment of compensation, waiving off of crop loan, free supply of rabi crop seeds and fertilisers.