PUNE: As cloudy weather looms all over the State and western India, experts have predicted continued presence of rain and possibility of sudden showers over the next few days till March 23. Farmers and markets are bracing for a disruption or damage to summer crops and harvests, causing losses to the already suffering agriculture sector.
Ramchandra Sabale, a meteorologist, said this year has seen some of the most significant impacts of climate change. “There has been a constant rise in temperature over the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, creating low-pressure belts. This has brought in vapour to the mainland, which will cause rains over the Konkan region, Vidarbha, Marathwada and central Maharashtra,” Sabale said, adding, “If such bouts continue up to May, it would be a whole year of rainfall. These are exceptional effects of climate change.”
One of the prominent impacts of untimely rains in this period is seen on the Alphonso mango crop from Konkan. Vidyadhar Joshi of Devgad Alphonso Growers Association said, “This cloudy weather is a huge problem. When it doesn’t get enough sunlight, the mango tree cannot carry out photosynthesis and will offload the fruit. This means the already low yield of this year will drop further by the loss of fruit.”
Joshi said a farmer is helpless in such a case. “Devgad produces some 40,000 metric tonnes of mangoes in a good season. This year has seen only 60 to 70 per cent fruit yield. We have already invested in the fruit. If the rains fall as predicted, we won’t even be able to cover our expenses and the worst part is, we are helpless as the offloading tendency of the mango is a natural phenomenon,” added Joshi.
Vishwanath Akkemwad, a farmer from Nanded, said he fears a 40 to 50 per cent loss of crop. “I grow sugarcane, banana and turmeric. The turmeric is ready and is supposed to be boiled and dried. If the rains are heavy, I could suffer up to 50 per cent losses. We have a jowar-like crop called talkya, the ears of which will grow dark,” Akkemwad said, adding, “The rain damages the leaves of banana, exposing the fruit to sunlight and damaging the fruit.”
Arun Kulkarni, a market expert and advisor at the Centre for Indian Agricultural Market Intelligence (CIAMI) however, has a different prediction. He said the intelligence up to now does not indicate huge losses for farmers. “The damage of the crop depends on the level of rainfall. If there is a light shower or drizzle, I don’t think there will be large-scale losses. Unless there is a hailstorm, I don’t think it will affect the crop much,” Kulkarni said.