TIMERGARA: Heavy hailstorm during Eid days has badly damaged standing crops, vegetables and fruit orchards in different parts of Malakand division, causing millions of rupees loss to the growers.
The heavy rainfall and hailstorm hit different parts of Lower Dir, Bajaur and Swat districts on the night between May 13 and 14 that destroyed standing wheat crops, vegetables and fruit that were ripe for harvesting, inflicting huge losses on the growers.
The affected areas included about two dozen villages and hamlets in Rabat Darra i.e Dogai, Baghe Haram, Charge, Badu Patay, Tangoo, Bazu Patay, Khangay Patay, Daberat, Saligram, Spena Khawra, Baghwandam, Tarnaw and Dab.
The local elders have asked the government, prime minister and chief minister to declare the area as calamity-hit and announce a special compensation package for the affectees.
The district administration should send a team for a survey to ascertain the damage caused by the torrential rains and hailstorm and prepare a special compensation package for the affected growers, they added.
They feared the poor growers might face hunger if they were not provided timely relief as the only yield from the crops, fruit and vegetables was their only source of income which they had lost. Talking to media Khaliq Jan, a grower from Saligram Rabat, said the hailstorm had completely crushed the wheat crop which was ready for harvest within a couple of days.
He said small farmers and peasants were totally dependent on the income from their agriculture yield which they lost due to the calamity.
“How the poor growers manage to overcome their losses as they had to buy a hybrid onion at the rate of Rs8000 per kilogram and a pack of tomato seed at Rs8500?” he asked.
He said most of the growers bought seed, fertilizers and pesticide on credit in the hope of paying back the shopkeepers after harvest.
Said Zamin Khan, another grower, put the loss of crop at Rs25 million from one village besides loss of fodder worth Rs7 million.
A grower, Muhammad Nawaz Khan, said not only their wheat crop had been destroyed, but the severe hailstorm damaged orange trees that were about to bloom, while peach, plums and apricot orchards were badly damaged which were ripe for harvest and tomato crop was also destroyed.
“I have not seen such severe hailstorms during the last 60 years,” he said.
The hailstorm started at about 1:45am and destroyed onion, garlic and tomato crops which was our lone source of income, he added.
Qari Ikramullah said his peach orchard consisting of 200 trees has been badly damaged besides wheat and tomato crops.
The rain and hailstorm also damaged wheat crop, vegetables and fruit orchards in more than a dozen villages in Talash valley of Lower Dir which included Banrgay, Soghalay, Dherai, Cham, Bajauro, Checho, Kangra, Ajoo, Katkala and other surrounding localities.
The scenic Larram Darra was also hit by the hailstorm, causing severe damage to the wheat crop, vegetable like tomato and fruit orchards.
Muhammad Ismail Khan Roghani, chief of Roghani tribe has called for a special compensation package for the growers, saying agricultural yield was the only source of income for the poor people inhibiting the hilly area.
The hailstorm has destroyed the crops almost ripe for harvest and now they would have nothing, he said, adding that how they would manage spending life after losing their lone source of income He appealed to the government to declare the area as calamity-hit and provide compensation to the affectees.
A journalist Anwarullah Khan from Bajaur said that hailstorm hit some villages in Salarzai, Mamond and Khar tehsils of the district. He said the heavy rain coupled with hailstorm damaged the standing wheat crop, vegetables and fruit. Essa Khankhel, The News correspondent from Swat, added that hailstorm lashed upper parts of Swat district including Matta, Khwazakhela, Charbagh and Behrain tehsils.