The Bengal government on Friday evening set the ball rolling to compensate farmers for the damage caused to crops by the sudden December rain and deputed officials of the agriculture department to assess the losses.
A source in Nabanna said an internal meeting of the agriculture department was scheduled immediately after chief minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed her concern in Kurseong about the damage to the crops and assured the farming community of compensation.
The state witnessed a spell of rain on Wednesday and Thursday because of Cyclone Michaung that made its landfall in Andhra Pradesh.
During the winter months, farmers in districts like Nadia, Murshidabad and East Burdwan produce vegetables like cauliflower, coriander leaves, tomato, cabbage, beans and brinjal. Multiple sources said those crops had been affected by the showers.
“The damage can lead to a rise in vegetable prices shortly,” said a trader.
On Friday, minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and senior bureaucrats of the state agriculture department conducted a video conference with officials in districts across Bengal and asked them to complete the assessment of the crop damage within three or four days.
“We have asked our officials to assess the loss and initiate the process of paying compensations as soon as possible. The farmers who are under the crop insurance scheme of the state government will get their compensation according to the norms. The government will also compensate the affected farmers who are out of the insurance scheme,” said Chattopadhyay, the state agriculture minister.
“We hope to get a clearer picture of the actual damage within a few days” he added.
Around 60 lakh of a total of 72 lakh farmers in Bengal are under the state government’s crop insurance scheme.
The districts like East Burdwan, Bankura, Hooghly, Howrah, Birbhum, North-24 Parganas and South-24 Parganas witnessed 80-100 mm of rainfall in two days since Wednesday, leaving thousands of farmers in distress over the loss of the crops.
“A large number of farmers of our districts had sowed Aman paddy quite late because of the uncertainty of rainfall this year. As a result, huge amounts of almost ready-to-harvest paddy were on the fields, which got damaged,” said Farid Mollah, a farmer from Birbhum’s Bolpur.
According to a source, potato cultivation is also affected in districts like Hooghly and Bankura, which produce the highest amounts of the crop in Bengal.