Replying to the marathon discussion on the situation arising out of recent hailstorms and unseasonal rains in North Maharashtra that caused heavy damage to standing crops and fruit orchards with farmers suffering heavy losses, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said that time has come to change patterns of farming. “The cycle of nature is changing. Farmers have been suffering losses due to different natural calamities over the last several years. Nature has become unpredictable. Now, farming would have to done looking to the ‘mood’ and at the ‘mercy’ of Mother Nature. Farmers will have to be saved nature’s furies and for this a deep study is required. Agriculture universities could help in endevour enormously,” said Khadse.
“The devastating hailstorms and rains have left standing crops in one lakh hectare, spreading over 893 villages and towns, flat. This is the first time that such scale of devastation is being witnessed. Fruit orchards in 25,000 hectares have taken the brunt. Mango and cashew crops in Konkan have been destructed. If help is extended per hectare an amount of Rs 100 crore will be needed. The relief will be given on the basis of the GR issued for aid package for drought-hit farmers. As far as crop insurance is concerned discussions are being held with insurance companies namely Bajaj, Reliance and Tata Agro Company. The talks are in final stages,” said the Revenue Minister.
Khadse said that the farmers affected by recent hailstorms will be given special assistance according to the prevailing practice. The assistance will be Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 per hectare for different crops and fruit orchards. The farmers will have to pay the loan amounts of three years but the interest will be waived. Moreover, Rs 1.50 lakh each will be given to families of deceased farmers. Apart from this aid, additional Rs 1 lakh will be given from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The crop insurance money will also be paid immediately. For deaths of cattle, amounts between Rs 3000 and Rs 25,000 will be given. For damage to ‘Kachha” houses, help of Rs 25,000 and for minor damage Rs 15000 will be given to the affected farmers. The rice farmers will get Rs 7500 per hectare and other farmers will be given Rs 5000 per hectare. For farm land damage, the farmers will be extended help of maximum Rs 25000 per hectare. A special fund (Agriculture cess) for natural calamities will be considered. As far as assistance to brick kiln owners there is no policy of Government. Royalty will be waived if it come under the gamut of natural calamities, said Khadse.
“The financial condition of State Government is not so good. Therefore the assistance will not be more than the announced relief. If the situation improves in the Budget, more aid will be given,” assured the Revenue Minister.
Khadse further said that in Spain and Italy, the fruit gardens are protected by netting. The technique was adopted since the past 10-12 years. In India, the measure can protect the fruit farms from the vagaries of nature in great detail. However, this netting is very costly. If Central Government extends help, the netting could be provided to farmers in the State, said Khadse