Throughout August, when the paddy crop needs sufficient water, large parts of Central India—known as the rice bowl states—have received deficient rainfall, sending worrying signals to their farmers.
Cumulative data of the rainfall for the month till Monday (i.e. between August 1 to 30) shows that Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Telangana, Goa and Karnataka in central peninsular India, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi in northwest India, and Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram in the northeast have received deficient rainfall. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) data shows that Gujarat and Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh received largely deficient rainfall for the same period.
According to IMD, rainfall in the category (-) 59% to (-) 20% is normal deficient rainfall while that in the category, (-) 60% to (-) 99% is large deficient. However, the state data is based on average rainfall and does not reflect the spatial difference in different parts of the state, and it is the sub-division-wise data that shows the accurate picture.
For instance, while west Madhya Pradesh has received normal rainfall, east Madhya Pradesh has received (-) 43% deficient rainfall, at 203 mm rainfall against the normal of 356.9 mm for this duration.
Vidarbha region of Maharashtra received (-) 46% deficient rainfall (159.2 mm against the normal of 296.6 mm), Chhattisgarh received (-) 39% deficient rainfall (216.1 mm rainfall against the normal of 296.6 mm), Odisha received (-) 46% deficient rainfall (193.4 mm against 358.7 mm), Jharkhand (-) 34% (at 192.8 mm against 290.4 mm), and Telangana (-) 21% (173.3 mm against 218.6 mm), the IMD data shows.
The paddy crop is in the middle of the crop cycle. It is not just the rain deficit that is a cause of worry. Many states—Telangana and Jharkhand of the above list included—have not opted for crop insurance, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. “So, the farmers are facing double jeopardy – shortfall in rain and no crop insurance to fall back on,” Executive Director of the Secundarabad-headquartered Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Dr G.V. Ramanjaneyulu said.
He pointed out a more profound problem as to why more and more farmers mostly opt for paddy. “There is no procurement for oil seeds and pulses as is assured for paddy. With the same amount of water, the pulses and oil seeds could have survived,” he said.
States are worried, and some of them have started taking steps to prevent crop loss. For instance, Chhattisgarh is facing deficient rainfall in 12 of the 28 districts from June 1 till August 30, while for the period from August 1 till 3, it is 21 districts that are in the red. Therefore, the state government has claimed to have geared up its machinery, especially the Agriculture, Irrigation, and Revenue Departments.
With initial good rains, farmers have picked up more short term loans, seeds, used KCC more (Kisan Credit Cards) and even fertilisers, but are now facing deficient rain.
“I have directed the Revenue Department to assess the situation, have asked the Agriculture Department to save whatever paddy crop they can,” Chhattisgarh’s Agriculture Minister Ravindra Choubey told IANS over the phone.
“The deficit rainfall has also meant that our dams have less water. Our paddy sowing is 97 per cent. Despite that we have asked the Irrigation Department to release water to save crop,” he said.
However, meteorologists have said that it is not much of a concern as yet. “These areas have been getting rainfall occasionally, which has helped sustain the crop. And for September, the extended forecast for first few days show things are better, they are getting rains,” IMD’s head of the Long Range Forecast, D.S. Pai said.
The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.