paddy sowing hit as rains skip school

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Parts of India, especially around the plains of the Ganges, face a severe shortage of rainfall. Paddy plantings have been slow for the past two months, even abandoned in some places, due to the monsoon deficit. Should the rains skip school this month, farmers fear an impending drought.

“Area of ​​paddy rice remains a concern,” said Vijoo Krishnan, co-secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, adding, “There are reports of around 27 lakh hectares less sown to paddy this season.”

Rainfall distribution was uneven last month, with northwestern, eastern and northeastern parts of the country experiencing cumulative rainfall deficits. Inadequate rainfall in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal – where many districts saw rainfall declines of up to 49% – affected plantings.

Precipitation Information by State, Cumulative (June 1, 2022 through August 1, 2022) | Courtesy of IMD

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) index for July, nearly 660 out of 756 districts, or about 85 percent, faced varying degrees of aridity, and at least 196 districts are in the grip of severe drought.

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Of these, according to the report published this month, 65 (out of a total of 75 districts) are in Uttar Pradesh, 35 in Bihar (out of 38) and 16 each in Jharkhand (out of 24) and West Bengal (out of 23) .

Paddy needs plenty of water and is traditionally grown in flooded areas. Incidentally, India ranks second after China in rice production.

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At the end of May, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) presented the report “Drought in figures, 2022”. This highlighted India’s vulnerability to droughts.

The report analyzed droughts and their impact on lives and livelihoods over 122 years covering 196 countries. He said more than 1.4 billion people were affected by drought between 2000 and 2019. This makes drought the second largest disaster affecting people after floods.

Also read: Center increases MSP for kharif crops by 4-9% for 2022-23; paddy up by Rs 100/qtl

It was reported that India featured in the assessment as one of the most drought-affected countries. Almost two-thirds of the country suffered from drought between 2020 and 2022, while India’s GDP declined by 2-5% between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts in the country.

Government initiatives

According to a study by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on desertification in 2007, 69% of land in India is arid. Large parts of these drylands are found in Rajasthan and the Rann of Kutch, while the semi-arid regions of Punjab and Gujarat lie in the rain shadow areas of the Western Ghats.

The Center insists that the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has taken measures to deal with the “extreme weather situation”. This includes issuing notices to states through crop development directorates in consultation with state agricultural universities and Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) to create awareness campaigns and implement development plans. urgency according to local needs.

There are 731 KVKs in the country, which apply technology developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute to fields for evaluation in specific locations and various farming systems.

Stating this to the Rajya Sabha in a July 22 written statement, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The KVKs are also conducting a large number of technology demonstrations in farmers’ fields for their adoption by the farmers.

In another reply on the same day, Tomar said, “In addition, IMD…issues weather-based operational agro-meteorological advisories jointly with ICAR and SAUs under the Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa program ( GKMS).”

Fig.4_Paddy production

He added that Agromet advisories are communicated to farmers through mass media and a mobile application called “Meghdoot” which was launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences to help farmers get information. meteorological.

The minister further informed the Rajya Sabha that a project is underway to develop and promote climate-resilient crops and technologies “that help districts and regions prone to extreme weather conditions like droughts, floods, frost, heat waves, etc., to cope with such extremes”.

Drought management

The Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal ministry for monitoring and managing drought conditions. Droughts are classified into meteorological droughts, hydrological droughts and agricultural droughts.

Meteorological drought is categorized by rainfall deficit relative to the long-term average – 25% or less is normal, 26-50% is moderate, and more than 50% is severe. And, according to the ministry of Jal Shakti, agricultural drought is identified as four consecutive weeks of meteorological drought.

Tomar said about 68% of the country is drought prone to varying degrees. Of these, 35% that receive rainfall between 750mm and 1125mm are considered drought prone, while 33% receiving less than 750mm are chronically drought prone.

IMD is the designated agency to provide drought early warning and forecasting. The Division of Agricultural Meteorology, Pune advises on actual and forecast weather conditions and its likely impact on day-to-day agricultural operations.

For the country, area-weighted rainfall having a normal of 88 cm, also known as Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall (ISMR), is considered.

When the rainfall deficit exceeds 10 percent and when the drought area exceeds 20 percent of the country’s total plains area (which is 32,87,782 km2), such a situation is considered drought, according to the IMD. .

state of states

Farmers in several states are witnessing slow planting due to the erratic southwest monsoon. Even in Maharashtra, where there has been excess rainfall, there are areas where kharif plantings have taken a hit.

“The erratic monsoon has affected plantings on about 8.5 lakh hectare of land in 23 districts of Maharashtra,” said Raju Shetti, founder of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana. “Kharif crops like paddy, soybean and cotton seedlings are already very behind in these areas,” he said.

On the other hand, Telangana – which is also among the major rice producers – faces the threat of severe flooding which could lead to major crop damage.

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Another major rice-producing state, Bihar, has experienced a 36% rainfall deficit in the past two months. “It’s a drought-like situation in all but one district,” Krishnan said.

Avinash, a 42-year-old educationist turned farmer, cultivates rice on about 7 acres of land in Orhanpur, about 10 km from Nawada district headquarters. This year, he is still waiting to start the sowing process due to the vagaries of nature.

“I and others don’t have a borehole of our own. The owner of the one we share needs water to keep his land flooded for planting. We might have a chance later this month- Paddy needs standing water in the field for at least the first 15 days,” he explained.

He used to run schools in Delhi, but between demonetization and the pandemic he had to shut down and move to his village in Nawada district.

“The spurts of rain don’t help, even if it’s a heavy downpour that lasts a few hours… The water soaks into the ground very quickly. It takes at least two days of regular showers to enable us to sow paddy. And that didn’t happen this time,” he added.

Uttar Pradesh land area shrinking

A similar story was shared by Sadhu Saran from Deoria district in Uttar Pradesh. He claimed that the area had been reduced by 50% and affected about 8 lakh hectares of land. He too is waiting for enough water for his crop.

According to the IMD, the worst affected districts are like Kaushambi and Gonda, where recorded rainfall has been negligible – more than 90 percent insufficient.

Added to this are rumors that the police are banning the use of groundwater. Some claim it is a canard propagated by borehole owners, who have little water for their own fields.

Jharkhand sowing postponed

Like Bihar, farmers in neighboring Jharkhand are preparing to sow paddy around mid-June. The sowing process continues throughout the month of July. However, insufficient rainfall in June-July delayed their sowing until August.

Suphal Mahato from Maheshpur village in Ranchi district is devastated. “I don’t know what awaits us,” he said.

In fact, this year the state recorded the lowest rainfall in the first two months of the monsoon season compared to the past nine years. It recorded an overall deficit of 49%, the highest deficit since 2014.

About 85 percent of Jharkhand’s arable land slated for paddy cultivation is fallow, according to the state agriculture department’s sowing coverage report.

The state is reportedly working on drought relief plans. It includes a free payment of Rs 60 per day for an adult and Rs 45 for a child.

West Bengal experiences rain deficit

IMD data for June-July 2022 shows that the southern part of West Bengal experienced a rainfall deficit of about 47% while it was down 24% across the state.

The state leads in both acreage and production in the country. About 78 percent of the total rice acreage here is concentrated in high and medium productivity groups, which account for nearly 84 percent of total rice production in the state.

Also Read: Agriculture Minister Says Farmers’ Income Has Doubled, Then Ties Down

Rice is grown in about 18 districts of West Bengal. Of these, four belong to the high productivity group with products over 2,500 kg per hectare. Among the “rice bowls” are the districts of Burdwan, Birbhum, Nadia and Hooghly. Nine other districts, producing 2,000 to 2,500 kg per hectare, are in the middle group.

Farmers are waiting for August to deliver their windfall from above after insufficient rains for the past two months.

However, with the exception of paddy, coverage of other kharif crops has been good in the country. The overall area of ​​kharif has been attributed to a substantial jump in the area sown to oilseeds. Incidentally, the government has focused on oilseeds to reduce import bills.

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