Heavy downpour signals trouble for potato farmers

February 16th, 2011 - 3:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Feb 16 (IANS) With the Taj city witnessing a heavy downpour early Wednesday accompanied by thunder lightning, farmers in this potato belt fear damage to their crop. However, the rain seems to be a blessing for the wheat crop.The city saw a few rounds of intermittent light drizzle Tuesday.

The main cause of worry in this belt, producing more than 30 percent potatoes of the total national output, was the outbreak of diseases.

“There could be an outbreak of diseases, which would not only lead to quality deterioration but affect the output,” a state horticulture department official said.

If it stops pouring “there would not be much damage, but further extension of the wet spell could mean trouble for potato cultivators in the entire belt,” said Sachchendra Singh, a progressive farmer of Hathras.

Farmers said the heavy showers and hailstorm have damaged the standing potato crop in Khandauli block, which records the best and highest production of potatoes, and Shamshabad and Fatehabad blocks.

“This is the time we normally start digging out potatoes. Now, this operation has been delayed by at least a week and this signals trouble for most farmers,” said Ravi Singh, a farmer of Barauli Aheer block.

Some parts have reported damage to the mustard crop, particularly villages bordering Rajasthan. In some areas, the fields are filled with rain water.

But the farmers growing wheat, gram and pulses along with paddy are upbeat as they see the rain as golden drops from heaven.

“The diesel consumption will naturally decline and the yield will be good. The temperature falling by eight to ten degrees augurs well for the wheat crop, which was under threat due to abrupt rise in the day temperature with the night temperature also going up,” said Subhash Jha, a development functionary working with the Chief Development Officer’s office.

The wet spell could continue for another couple of days, he added. Normally, January witnesses winter rain but this time they were delayed.

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