Unseasonal hailstorm hits India, causing large-scale agricultural damage

A powerful storm accompanied with very damaging hail hit parts of central and southern India over the past couple of days, destroying more than 125 000 hectares (309 000 acres) of crops and killing several people. Such powerful storms are not usual for this region at this time of year.

The worst affected was Maharashtra where a 30- to 90-minute long hailstorm killed three people, injured at least 2 and severely damaged crops like wheat, corn, onion, orange, banana and grapes.

Pandurang Phundkar, Agriculture Minister of Maharashtra, said in a statement that rain and hailstorms over Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and 11 have affected 1 086 villages in 11 districts of the State. Buldhana, Amravati and Jalna are the districts that have suffered maximum damage. 

The rains have also affected standing crops in nine districts of central and northern Madhya Pradesh, The Hindu Business Line reports. According to the State government, districts that suffered large-scale damage to its wheat and pulses crops include Sehore, Raisen, Bhopal and Dewas.

A local pulse trader said the hailstorm may not have any large bearing on the output, but will certainly change the color of crops like dollar chana, chana and wheat, thereby causing an impact on its pricing. He added that standing crops of Masur, which are grown extensively in these regions, is likely to suffer from the hailstorm.

Coffee growers in Karnataka, who are already battling a poor crop and low prices, were also hit by unseasonal rains in the past few days over parts of the key growing regions which could hurt the prospects of arabica crop in the next season starting October. Also, the untimely showers have interrupted the harvest of robustas, which is in last stages and drying of the coffees.

In Telangana, unseasonable rain and hailstorm that lasted for over 45 minutes killed one person and damaged crops cultivated in over 4 000 hectares (10 000 acres) of land in Nirmal. 

In addition, a sizeable loss of cattle and poultry has also been reported across all states.

The damage assessment report is expected to be finalized in the next couple of days.

Featured image credit: ANI

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