Image
© New Indian Express
Kula Ganga Reddy stands amid the ruins of what was once his banana plantation at Chelgal village in Jagtial mandal
A young farmer from Chelgal village in Jagtial mandal, Akula Ganga Reddy, could not contain his tears when asked about his banana plantation. He was upbeat until last week, working in his plantation by day and by night, watering the trees and cutting down the weeds.

His world, however, turned upside down in an hour on Monday night — the hailstorm, described by many as unprecedented, destroyed his two-acre plantation. Had it not been for the unexpected calamity, Reddy's efforts would have borne fruit in a matter of days. But, by Tuesday morning, 80 per cent of his plantation was lost.

"I pinned all my hopes on the banana plantation. I planted the trees in two acres by investing Rs 4 lakh which I borrowed from money lenders. All my hopes are dashed," Ganga Reddy said, tears rolling down his cheeks. His only hope now lies in government aid. He is praying for a visit from any government official to assess his loss and announce some form of compensation.

Chelgal and Tatipalli villages are among the badly-affected in Jagtial mandal. In Chelgal, about 70 per cent crop has been damaged. Given the past experience of scanty rainfall, irrigation officials had advised farmers not to cultivate paddy but to go in for Irrigated Dry (ID) crops like sesame, banana or others. "This is the first time that we are facing this kind of a situation,'' explained Naluvala Tirupathi of Chelgal village who lost his sesame crop in the hailstorm. After drought, it is now the hailstorm that has hit us hard, he lamented.

According to agriculture department officials, standing crops in about 15,638.2 hectares have been damaged due to the hailstorm and unseasonal rains. Farmer B Buchaiah at Thatipalli village tried his luck with turmeric in his one-and-a-half acres. He got a decent yield and spread it in his fields for drying but the sudden rain left more than a quintal unusable. "This produce will not get sold in the market,'' he rued showing the soaked turmeric in his hands.