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Bengal staring at record agri-loss due to Cyclone Amphan: Minister


Press Trust of India Kolkata
Cyclone Amphan has ravaged the farming sector in at least 14 of the 23 districts in West Bengal and the loss incurred may create an all-time record, state Agriculture Minister Ashish Banerjee said on Friday.
According to initial estimates, Hooghly and Birbhum districts have incurred a loss of Rs 600 crore and Rs 462 crore respectively, Banerjee told PTI.
In East Midnapore, a coastal district, crops in around 47,000 hectares of land were destroyed, while 70 per cent and 50 per cent of paddy in Burdwan East and Bankura districts were lost, officials said.
The agriculture department is trying to collect data about the devastation from other districts.
"There are at least 14 districts where agriculture has been devastated. We have not received reports from all the districts as connectivity is yet to be fully restored. But from the initial reports, we can understand that the losses could be an all-time record," Banerjee said.
The minister held a meeting with Pradip Majumdar, the advisor to the chief minister on agriculture, and other senior officials at the state secretariat on Friday.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered to estimate the losses incurred in the horticulture and agriculture sectors due to Cyclone Amphan within a week.
In East Midnapore, paddy crop in around 30,000 hectares, sesame in around 12,000 hectares and vegetables in around 5,000 hectares of land have been lost due to the cyclone, a senior official of the agriculture department said.
Betel plant cultivation in the district has also been hit "very badly", he added.
"Farmers had hoped that after the lockdown is lifted, they will be able to sell their produce and compensate for their losses. The cyclone has thrashed all their hopes," the official told PTI.
Birbhum District Magistrate Moumita Godara said an estimation of the loss caused by Cyclone Amphan was being done and the picture will be clear in a day or two.
In Burdwan, most of the lands where paddy was cultivated have been inundated.
"We had managed to harvest only 30 per cent of the paddy cultivation. The rest is now under water. The entire paddy is lost," an official said.
In Bankura, there has been a huge loss in the harvesting of Boro paddy and vegetable farming.
"Around 50 per cent of the Boro paddy was lying in the fields. They are under water for two to three days.... So it is a total loss," a senior official of the agriculture department said.
The mango orchards in Murshidabad district were also badly hit by the cyclone, he added.
"Around 30 per cent of the mangoes have fallen from the trees during the cyclone. It will be very difficult for the farmers to make any profit. Rather, they are likely to incur a huge loss," the official told PTI.
The flower growers of Howrah and Hooghly districts are also severely affected, he said.
Several attempts to contact senior officials of South 24 Parganas, one of the worst-hit districts, failed because of connectivity issues.
The agriculture minister is slated to hold a meeting with officials of East and West Burdwan, Bankura and Birbhum districts on May 26 in connection with the estimation of the losses.

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First Published: May 22 2020 | 10:44 PM IST

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