Untimely rains over the weekend caught farmers in Maharashtra offguard, causing damage to most ready-to- harvest rabi crops in the state. According to state agriculture officials, jowar, wheat and gram crops were ready for harvest but the rains have caused damage.
Crops of vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflower and coriander in areas like Junnar, Ambegaon and Khed have been the worst affected. According to Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India, almost all commodities have been hit by rains to the extent of 40-50% and tomatoes, which are in the middle of harvest, may be infested with Karpa disease. In addition to the rains, temperatures have gone down and this could affect the crops, he said, adding that consumers may have to face the brunt in the next few days with prices of vegetables likely to increase by 10-12%.
Onion, a major crop in Maharashtra, has been damaged with incessant rains over the weekend and there have been instances of traders refusing to pick up crops after concluding deals with farmers in Khed, Junnar and Ambegan talukas of the state. Around 3-4 trucks of onions were refused by traders after concluding deals at the day’s rate, and after the rains began, traders demanded the same commodity at lower rates,Gadhave said.
Nanasaheb Patil, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, agreed and said he had to dispose off his produce at Rs 900 per quintal as against the normal prevailing rate of Rs 1,200-1,400 a quintal because of the rains. The late kharif crop has been damaged to the extent of 50% and kharif onion continues to arrive in the market till the end of March. This onion does not have a shelf life of more than month due to moisture content.
On Tuesday, around 19,500 quintals of onions arrived in the Lasalgaon market with the minimum price touching Rs 600 per quintal and maximum at Rs 1,340 per quintal and modal price averaging at Rs 1,200 per quintal. Patil said arrivals will be impacted for the next few days since farmers will have to wait for their fields to dry before harvesting.
Elsewhere in Nashik district, grape vineyards were damaged leading to 50% cracking in crops. Ashok Gaikwad, chairman, Maharashtra Grape Growers Association, said around 80,000 tonne of raisins which were kept in sheds for drying have been damaged with moisture causing change in colour and flavour. Maharashtra produces around 1.5 lakh tonne of raisins. According to Gagandada Khapre, president, National Grape Exporters Association, packing of grapes has been closed for 4-5 days because of rains and this has impacted exports. India had exported about 5,000 containers of grapes to Europe. Gaikwad said rains have been wreaking havoc almost every month in Maharashtra causing losses to farmers. Instances of traders demanding crops at lower rates will be on the rise.