Gone with the wind: Crops worth millions destroyed in rainstormFarmer Jakir Miya Thakurai of Bara had planted wheat on 8 katthas of land, the winter rains were good, and he was all set to reap a bumper harvest. Then last Sunday, a big wind came out of nowhere and blew away his dreams of making a tidy income this year. The rainstorm flattened Thakurai’s farm and home in Purainiya, Pheta rural municipality along with a wide swathe of the Tarai plains.
Farmer Jakir Miya Thakurai of Bara had planted wheat on 8 katthas of land, the winter rains were good, and he was all set to reap a bumper harvest. Then last Sunday, a big wind came out of nowhere and blew away his dreams of making a tidy income this year. The rainstorm flattened Thakurai’s farm and home in Purainiya, Pheta rural municipality along with a wide swathe of the Tarai plains.
Gale-force winds of 90 km per hour smashed into Bara and Parsa districts, uprooting trees, knocking down houses and blowing away automobiles. The disaster claimed the lives of 28 people and rendered hundreds homeless in Bara and Parsa districts. Thakurai not only lost his standing wheat crops, even his food stock was buried when the walls of his house collapsed.
“The ripened wheat has been swept away from the farm, and the food stock has been buried. There is nothing to eat now,” said Thakurai, who has been living under a makeshift tent and eating food donated by various organisations. He also lost a buffalo. Last year, he had harvested 100 kg of wheat and was expecting to harvest 150 kg this year. “But nothing is left now.” Along with Thakurai, many farmers have lost their crops.
Samim Ahamad had leased 2 bighas of land to another farmer to grow crops. Now, both farmers have nothing. “We had expected a bumper wheat harvest this year and had dreamt of a good income. We had made the family’s income and expenditure plans accordingly. But that’s all gone,” lamented Ahamad.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has projected that Nepal’s wheat harvest could exceed 2 million tonnes this fiscal year and set a new record, largely due to good weather during the growing season in the winter. Wheat is the country’s third most common cereal crop after paddy and maize.
This year’s harvest is expected to record a 7 percent growth largely due to ‘good winter’ rainfall across the country. The losses in the two districts may force the government to revise the preliminary estimate.
According to Mohammad Gani Ansari, a local of Bara, standing wheat crops on 40 bighas of land were destroyed by the storm. He said that the disaster killed 19 head of cattle. According to Krishi Gyan Kendra, Bara, formally known as the district agriculture office, crop losses have been recorded in more than 12 villages.
Jitendra Yadav, chief of Krishi Gyan Kendra, Bara, said that the storm destroyed 1,505 bighas of crops like wheat, maize, lentils, fruits and vegetables.
He added that crops on 2,231 bighas were partially damaged. Krishi Gyan Kendra is yet to assess the monetary value of the losses, but said they could amount to millions of rupees. “It’s a big loss because farmers were expecting a bumper winter harvest after a long time,” said Yadav.