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Farmers split over rabi yield

- Experts claim winter rain good for produce

Rabi crop farmers in the state seem to have differing views on the effect of prolonged winter and frequent spells of rain and wind in February on the harvest.

While some believe that the showers would lead to good produce, others are of the opinion that the high-speed winds would be harmful on the crop.

Agriculture experts have claimed that the winter rain is likely to increase the overall produce of two main rabi crops — maize and wheat. Bihar is apparently the largest supplier of rabi maize in the country with contribution of over 60 per cent of the total national produce.

“The prolonged cold and winter rain favoured maize and wheat production. It is expected that farmers would have a good harvest of these two rabi crops this time,” said Anil Jha, an expert of the agriculture department.

Farmers, however, seemed to be divided over the expected impact of the erratic winter season on the harvest of rabi crops this time.

Sudhanshu Kumar, a farmer from Samastipur, claimed of getting good harvest of wheat and maize this time, said: “The frequent winter rain proved to be a blessing in disguise for wheat, corn and maize farmers. Normally, farmers need to carry out artificial irrigation in the farms in February and March to augment the growth of these crops in the standing stage but the rains provided the same this time”

Rohtas-based tiller Yashwant Kumar Singh, however, has a different opinion.

“The agriculture experts do not seem to have a practical approach when commenting on the rabi produce this time. Though the rain acted as a favourable factor for wheat, the high-speed winds have proved to be harmful for the crop. Cyclone Phailin had adversely affected the kharif crops last year and the winter rains have done the same for wheat this time,” said Singh.

Most people seem to be agreeing over the adverse impact of the untimely rain on the harvest of pulses.

“The rain and the resultant high level of moisture content in the soil led to excessive wild vegetation in the farms. This, in turn, is likely to have damaged the growth of standing pulses. Hence, the overall produce of pulses of this rabi season is likely to be comparatively less this time,” said Jha.

The state witnessed a prolonged winter season this year as the minimum temperature failed to go above 13 degrees Celsius till the first week of March.

This was accompanied with frequent rain spells owing to over 10 western disturbances hitting the state during the same time.

The state normally gets the highest number of western disturbances in January but this time the frequency was higher in February.Jha claimed that the overall produce of maize crop in the rabi season is normally around 9-10 lakh tonnes but it may rise up to 10-15 lakh tonnes this time.

Similarly, the average produce of wheat crop in the rabi season is around 60 lakh tonnes but it might go up to 70 lakh tonnes this time.

While around 22 lakh hectares of arable land is used for wheat cultivation in Bihar, the average area used for cultivation of maize is about 3.5 lakh hectares.

The rabi season starts with the onset of north-east monsoon in October and ends in April-end.

Sowing of rabi crops normally starts from mid-November. The harvesting normally starts from November-end and continues till April-end and procurement starts from May.

The water that has percolated in the ground during monsoon is the main source of water for these crops. Rabi crops require irrigation.

So a good or bountiful rain may tend to spoil the kharif crops but is good for rabi crops.

Major rabi crop is wheat in India followed by barley, mustard, sesame and peas. These are harvested early, as they are ready early.

Other examples of rabi crops are wheat, gram, linseed, gram, rice maizeoats, bajra, jowar and others.