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Cyclone Jawed brings untold misery to Odisha farmers

Bhubaneswar, Dec 6: Even with a reduced intensity, Cyclone Jawed has left behind untold misery for the farmers, destroying crops over thousands of hectares in coastal districts.

Though the system had reduced to a deep depression while making landfall close to Puri on Sunday, it still caused enough rainfall to submerge lakhs of agricultural land and damage crops stocked for transport to the local mandis.

n Cuttack district, for example, farmers had shifted crops in about 16 hectares of land just before the cyclone, yet failed to stock crops in about 11,000 hectares, that lay damaged now. According to reports, 95 per cent of the crops in about 1.33 lakh agricultural land are believed to have been destroyed.

The coastal districts received between 25 to 200 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours, with Jagatsinghpur district recording a high of 201 mm of rainfall. Reports reaching the district headquarter suggests that crops and vegetables over 50,000 hectares stand destroyed now.

What has made the matter worse for the farmers is that paddy in most of the districts was about to be shifted to the mandis as the procurement was due to start from January 7 next year. The farmers are staring at an uncertain future now.

Puri district was fearing the worst. But even though the cyclone did not cause any major damage to the infrastructure, it played a sordid tale in the lives of the hapless farmers. With the district receiving 56 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours, 50,000 hectares of agricultural land are reported to be under water. According to local officials, 60 per cent of the harvested crops have been destroyed in the torrential downpour. The district has about 1.30 lakh agricultural land, and out of this, vegetables are grown in 20,000 hectares. The horticulture produce is also feared to have been destroyed.

In the adjoining Khurda district, crops in about 1500 hectares are believed to have been damaged after the district reported 39 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. Vegetables grown in 5000 hectares have also fallen prey to the unseasonal rainfall, reports said.

The situation was no better either in Nayagarh district where 24 mm rainfall in a day damaged crops over 1800 hectors and vegetables over 300 hectors.

Odisha, which is prone to natural calamities, has prepared itself over the decades to minimize the loss of lives and properties. Yet the agriculture sector continues to remain vulnerable to cyclones and floods, incurring heavy losses year after year.  

As per a state government report, during cyclone Yaas, 2,197.34 hectares of agriculture and horticulture crops had sustained a loss to the extent of 33 per cent.

Cyclone Fani had caused Rs 150 crore loss to the agriculture sector in the State. Farmers in coastal areas are still recovering from that loss.