Hyderabad: Nearly 98,000 hectares of sown land in Telangana have been reported affected in just the last two weeks due to heavy unseasonal rainfall which has been lashing the state in October.

Preliminary reports from the state’s agriculture department shows that 113,000 farmers have been affected due to the rain, which were recorded at over 100 millimeters in several places, much higher the yearly average.

The unexpected damage will only add to the woes of the state, which is expecting some trouble from cotton farmers anticipating a price crash, as the crop was sown on nearly 49% of the farm lands during the Kharif period in 2017-18. Cotton cultivation this year touched nearly 1.9 million hectares, which is more than 50% higher than the previous year’s 1.24 million hectares. This year, the total cultivation area for the Kharif season was 3.9 million hectares.

“We cannot say exactly how much the damage will be in terms of area or what will happen to the crops till rains stop. We are getting data (from across the state) every day. But the main issue is water-logging which can cause problems," said K. Viyaja Kumar, additional director, Telangana state agriculture department.

Another senior official, who did not want to be named, informed that the monsoon usually retreats by the end of September and that heavy rains in October, when farmers start gathering and bringing their produce to agricultural markers, causes damage. “In such situations, we enumerate the crop damage and based on that data a report is sent to the state government projecting a loss. It is then sent to the central government depending on the situation," he explained.

The official stated that while rains are usually good for crops, as they wash away pests, inundation damages crops. “If it rains for a day then there is no problem, but these continuous downpours are harmful. Presently, cotton crops are in the Kapas (raw or seed form) stage and there is a chance that the heavy rain can result in fungus developing on them," he added.

According to data from the state’s agricultural department, till 13 October, a total of about 98,0000 hectares of crops were reported affected, of 73,000 hectares was cotton, 17,000 paddy, 1,600 maize, 4,800 red gram and 1,000 castor.

The damage is not surprising given that rainfall in districts (old 10 districts as per the Indian Meteorological Department. The State government carved 21 new, districts in 2016 from 9, barring Hyderabad, taking the total to 31 at present) like Ranga Reddy, Karimnagar and Mahbubnagar has been recorded at over 100 mm between 1-13 October.

An IMD official, who did not want to be identified, said that the heavy rains were a result of cyclonic formations over the Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions in Andhra Pradesh. “This not counted as part of the south-west monsoon or the rainy season, which is dated from 1 June to 30 September. We are expecting it to retreat in a week," he added.

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