Storm of woes over Kanthallur farms

Hailstorm causes large-scale damage to crops

The latest in the climate changes to hit Kanthallur in Idukki, known as the cool-season vegetable cultivating village in the State, is the hailstorm that lashed the area on Saturday and Sunday.

The hamlet in the rainshadow area received the summer rains after a long spell of drought. Hailstorms are very rare in the area, but farmers recall that whenever it hits, it leaves a trail of destruction.

Though the damage the hailstorm of last two days has caused is yet to be estimated, preliminary reports say orchards and newly grown saplings that were being readied for the main vegetable season in September/October has been heavily affected.

The vegetables in the budding stage are the most damaged, according to Sivalingam, a farmer.

The fruits, including apple sabar jelly and passion fruit, were in the early stage of growth over hundreds of acres of land, according to the farmers. Passion fruit is a recent addition to the Kanthallur menu and it has proven to be a high-income generating fruit for the farmers.

Govindaraj, a farmer, fears if the hailstorm or any such climate variance will affect the quality of fruits. He was particularly worried about apple and the plum trees that were now in the flowering stage.

According to him, the days after the hailstorm ones were sunny. The affected vegetables showed symptoms of drying up. If the situation continues, all the vegetables including beans, and cabbage will get spoiled, he says. Vegetables like potato having tubers beneath the soil, though, may not be affected much.

Plantain may also not meet the expected yield with the sudden hailstorm stunning its growth.

Climate changes

Such climate changes are becoming a mainstay in Kanthallur, according to the farmers. The long spell of the drought season would otherwise have been a rare occurrence, says a farmer. Nowadays, the day temperature seems to have increased and there are visible changes in the atmosphere that otherwise remains foggy with mild rains during the southwest monsoon season. Farmers fear such changes will alter the uniqueness of Kanthallur that favours growth of almost all varieties of fruits.

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