Wheat fields in Baitadi remain unharvested because of lockdown, fear of coronavirus and pre-monsoon rainfallThe heavy rains and hailstorms have also destroyed other ready-to-harvest crops like red lentils and barley.
Nirmala Ter’s family in Jarkatte, Dashrathchand Municipality, had sowed wheat in a half bigha land some six months ago. Every year, the harvest would last for almost a year for her family of 14 but this year Ter's family will have to purchase food grains to see them through the year.
“We should’ve harvested wheat in mid-April but we could not go to the fields because of the lockdown and the fear of contracting coronavirus. But now, when we absolutely must be in the fields harvesting, the pre-monsoon rains have arrived,” said Ter.
Like Ter, Kanta Bhatta of Devalhat is also looking at empty granary this year. “We are unable to store ready-to-harvest wheat due to the continuous rainfall. The pre-monsoon rains coupled with strong winds have damaged the standing crops,” said Bhatta.
Most fields in the municipality remain unharvested this season because of the lockdown, fear of the spread of coronavirus and the pre-monsoon rains. Uddhav Singh Markand, a local farmer in Devalhat, said, “We are already three weeks late. The rains also have destroyed ready-to-harvest red lentils and barley.”
The coronavirus pandemic and the protracted lockdown has also affected the farmers adversely with most field workers staying indoors as instructed by the authorities. “There are hardly any workers left in the villages. Even those native to the village are staying indoor lest they catch the virus,” said Markhand.
Farmers had cultivated wheat in around 17.5 hectares of land in Baitdai this year. Karna Chand, chief at Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Baitadi, said ready-to-harvest wheat crop has been greatly affected by the rainfalls and hailstorms this season. Wheat and other crops cultivated at Dashrathchand Municipality, Purchaurdi Municipality, Dilashaini Rural Municipality and Sunarya Rural Municipality have been affected by rainfall and hailstones. “We have estimated that around 10 to 15 percent of wheat production could be affected in Baitadi this season,” said Chand, adding that wheat plants are also suffering from various diseases because of excessive rainfall.