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A hailstorm and unseasonal rains lashed several parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on Sunday. But trade and government sources said an exact assessment of the damage to standing wheat, chana, grapes and cotton crops would only be available in the next few days. In Madhya Pradesh, sources said the hailstorm hit almost 400 villages and could affect the standing wheat, chana and mustard crop. The state government is assessing the impact of the hailstorm, which many said was among the severest in the last few years. Large tracts of farmland were covered with a thick sheet of white after the storm while in some places hail as big as golf balls fell. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in an address to the farmers, assured them the state government would provide relief to all hailstorm-affected farmers through an adequate compensation package and quick payment of insurance claims. Sehore, Harda and Dewas were among the worst affected districts in the state, sources said.
In Seoni district, around 44 mm of rainfall was recorded on Sunday.Madhya Pradesh is among the largest wheat and chana growing states in the country. According to data from the ministry of agriculture, wheat has been cultivated on 5.3 million hectares of land in the state, 1.1 million hectares less than last year, while chana has been grown 3.6 million hectares, 0.34 million hectares more than last year. Almost 0.5 million hectares of land low unsown in rabi 2018 due to low ground moisture in the state because of drought. The intensity of rain will lessen in the next 24 hours, but there could be a recurrence. “Tomorrow there is forecast of rains in east Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh along with parts of Marathwada in Maharashtra, while in areas that were hit by Sunday’s hailstorm namely the districts of Beed, Jalna, Parbhani in Maharashtra and Sehore, Harda and Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, the intensity will subside for now,” Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at Skymet said. Trade sources said as of now it is too early to say if there is any damage to chana crop till clarity emerges on the extent of the hailstorm and its spread, especially where chana and masoor are grown. But if it is big, then the crop will definitely get affected. “We have received reports of hailstorm affecting standing crops in some parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and have called for a report from the state meteorological departments and universities to gauge the extent of damage,” K K Singh, head of India Meteorological Department’s (IMD’s) Agromet advisory services, told Business Standard. A PTI report filed on Sunday said hailstorm over central parts of Maharashtra, Marathwada and parts of Vidarbha had claimed three lives, and the state government had ordered an assessment of the damage caused. According to a state agriculture department official, farm produce like wheat, oranges and grapes were severely damaged in some areas. In case of mustard, a main rabi crop, trade sources said preliminary estimates had not reported any large-scale damage. “Usually, if it rains it is good for mustard. We will have to assess the impact of hailstorm and we will be conducting crop survey on February 25-27, when we will come out with our crop estimates,” said B V Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA).