More than 500 ha of standing crops damaged by May 5 hailstorm


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By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, May 11: More than 1000 farmers who grow horticulture crops have been affected by the May 5 hail-storm that wreaked havoc in many parts of Manipur, said Horticulture and Soil Conser-vation Director K Debadutta Sharma.
While the total extent of the damage is yet to be ascertained, it is estimated that more than 500 Paris, approximately 500 hectares, of standing crops have been damaged by the hailstorm, he added.
The crops that have been damaged include watermelon, Thai melon (Chinar), muskmelon, cucumber, gourd, pumpkin etc.
The Horticulture Director said this at Bishnupur district, where he visited several farms affected by the hailstorm.
The officials who visited the farms include Additional Director Horticulture Md Zakir Husain Khan, Bishnupur District Horticulture Officer Dr Soibam Su- shila Chanu, MOMA Project Director Soubam Donald and Imphal East Horticulture Officer Yeite Koireng.
Farmers in Bishnupur district's Thinungei, Sunu-siphai, Phubala and Naran- seina have been largely affected by the hailstorm.
While inspecting the farms, Debadutta said the Horticulture Department had been conducting assessment of the damages since May 6.
"While the District Horticulture Officers are collec- ting damage reports, it is estimated that the hailstorm has affected around 1000 to 1200 farmers who grow horticulture crops. The extent of the damage will be known in 2-3 days after all the reports are collected," he said.
Debadutta said the assessment/inspection today was carried out following the advice of the Chief Minister.
He said the Department is in touch with the Chief Minister and steps have been taken up to provide relief and compensation to the affected farmers.
While the severe hailstorm of May 5 had affected most crops, some can still be saved and used, he said.
He said crops like watermelon that can be salvaged may be used to make squash.
"Watermelons can be used to make squash. The College of Food Technology, Central Agricultural University, has the technology for this. The Dean of the college, Dr Ng Iboyaima has also informed that this would be a viable option for farmers to salvage what remains of their crops and earn some income," Debadutta said.
Further, the Horticulture Department would also send the watermelons to the Food Preservation Factory at Nilakuthi Food Park for processing, he added.
During the visits today, the officials also inspected horticulture farms in the foothills of Wangoo in Kakching district.
The team inspected the crops including U-Morok and advised the farmers on the benefits of integrated farming and measures that may be adopted to protect crops from insects, diseases and maximise the yield.
Debadutta said natural disasters, diseases, insects and pests destroy crops in hectares and as such, it is important for farmers to avail crop insurance to cover for their losses.
He advised farmers to avail the benefits of the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana which insures farmers of their yield.
The Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana  covers a wide range of crops including cabbages and tomatoes. The premium for the scheme to be paid by the farmers is not costly. This would compensate farmers in times of natural disasters or other calamities, he said.
He reiterated that the Horticulture Department, in consultation with the Chief Minister, will decide on further steps to be taken to provide relief to the farmers.