Hailstorm leaves thousands of bunches on the ground

- NABIN POUDEL, PARASI

May 13, 2018-

Hailstorm, coupled with strong winds, has damaged banana plantation on huge tracts of land in western Nawalparasi, causing economic distress to the farmers who have not insured their crops.

Tuesday’s hailstorm and storm swept vegetable and cereal crops, farmers said. The farmers who are fully depended on income from banana plantation have been left devastated. The adverse weather destroyed standing banana plants on more than 100 bighas.

According to District Banana Producers Association, nearly 30,000 banana plants bearing fruits on 30 bigas and 20,000 small plants on 10 bigas have been destroyed. Similarly, 120,000 plants on 60 bigas have been damaged by the hailstorm and hurricane that pounded the district for hours on Tuesday.

“Farmers are in financial distress as they lost their crop at the final harvest window,” said Lakhhu Yadav, president of the association. “It means many are without income for the rest of the year,” he said.

Bandhu Khawasang of Susta Rural Municipality had his banana crop on 4 kattha land was ready for harvest. He had even called traders to sell his crop. But the devastating hailstorm wiped out the entire crop a night before the traders would arrive.

“I had taken a loan for banana farming. Now, everything is destroyed within a night,” Khawasang said, adding that there is no one to compensate their losses.

The association has urged the local level government to take necessary initiatives to compensate the farmer’s losses. Farmers in Nawalparasi have been planting sugarcane for a long time. However, nonpayment by sugar mills and low rates of the crop forced them to switch to the banana farming. According to the association, banana farming has been expanded by 50 bigas of land this year alone.

Tej Narayan Gaire, chief of the district agriculture development office, said the local level government has yet to assess the damage. “We have not received any information on the relief and compensation,” Gaire said. Banana acreage covers 12,354 bigas in the district.

As farmers have failed to insure their crops, they have been facing losses every year. Most of the farmers in the district are not aware of crop insurance. In the same period last year, hailstorm and hurricane had damaged crops worth Rs20 million in the eastern and western parts of Nawalparasi. However, farmers did not receive compensation from the government. Only few farmers had insured their crops. Last year, among 700 farmers whose crops were destroyed, only 70 had their crops insured.

The government has been providing crop insurance subsidy for the farmers. Crop insurance growth has remained slow despite the government offering 75 percent subsidy on premium.

Published: 13-05-2018 08:51

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