Jammu: The farmers of R S Pura, also known as the rice bowl of the Jammu region and the major grower of internationally acclaimed Basmati rice, are in distress after their standing crop was damaged in a massive hailstorm last week.
Three days have passed since the natural calamity struck, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has not yet announced the compensation for the damage as the revenue authorities are still working out the extent of damage caused to the paddy.
“The damage is 100 per cent and the farmers are distressed and on the verge of suicide,” 24-year-old Ghara Singh said watching a group of labourers clearing his field of the damaged Basmati crop in Suchetgarh near the international border on the outskirts of Jammu on Wednesday.
Basmati is a variety of long, slender-grained aromatic rice which has famed R S Pura in the international markets.
Singh said he has not seen such a devastating hailstorm in his life as was witnessed on October 24, ruining the six-month long hard work of the farmers besides a huge investment.
“We are concerned as the government is yet to take a call on the issue of compensation to the farmers whose standing crops were damaged,” he said, requesting the administration to speed up the process of the crop damage survey and announce a minimum compensation of Rs 15,000 per kanal to each family.
Sher Singh, another farmer, said they were hopeful of a better yield this time but the sudden hailstorm washed away their dreams.
“We attended our crops this time without any fear of Pakistani shelling (in the aftermath of renewed ceasefire between the two countries in February) and were hopeful of a better yield. The hailstorm destroyed everything,” he said, complaining that many farmers whose crops were damaged by heavy rains in 2019 are yet to receive the money.
The farmers are faced with another problem of clearing their fields of the damaged Basmati crop as they do not have money to prepare the land for the next crop.
Besides Jammu, the hailstorm has also damaged the standing crops in Samba and Kathua districts.