In the final week of November, farmers in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat faced the brunt of untimely rainfall and hailstorms, exacerbating the challenges they've endured throughout 2023. Cultivators of onions, grapes, pomegranates, mangoes, potatoes, and papaya have reported significant losses. The year began with an unusually warm February, followed by unseasonal rains and hailstorms in March, resulting in losses exceeding ₹18,000 crore. The delayed monsoon and an exceptionally dry August further compounded agricultural difficulties.
Despite assurances from the Maharashtra government in March to compensate farmers for crop damage caused by unseasonal rainfall, as of December, these promises remain unfulfilled. Recent damages are anticipated to worsen the plight of farmers, jeopardizing the upcoming cultivation season. Early estimates from the Maharashtra government suggest adverse effects on crops across 60,000 hectares due to the November rains.
Experts estimate cumulative losses for farmers in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat to exceed ₹3,000 crore, with a potential spike in vegetable prices, particularly onions. Pushan Sharma, Director of Research at CRISIL, highlighted a 36% increase in onion prices, which were already on the rise.
The increasing frequency of unseasonal rains in recent years raises concerns, prompting experts to emphasize the urgent need for enhancing post-harvest infrastructure. This improvement aims to mitigate farmer losses and stabilize prices of vegetables, fruits, and other produce. Sharma stressed that the lack of post-harvest infrastructure resulted in additional losses in onions and a shortage of processing facilities for tomatoes.