The country’s third driest June over a hundred years might have prompted the Union government to come up with agriculture contingency plans for around 500 districts but Bihar for one seems blessed in this field.
In spite of 32 per cent deficient rainfall across the state in June, the overall sowing of paddy seedlings till July 1 stood at 2,57,660 hectares, substantially higher than the area of 2,31,000 hectares covered under paddy cultivation during the same period in the previous year.
Paddy is the main kharif crop in the state and the sowing of its seedlings starts mostly from early June and continues till the end of the month.
Agriculture experts have claimed that the monsoon rainfall so far has been favourable for the kharif paddy cultivation but more rain is required now onwards as necessitated by the crucial transplantation phase. “The rainfall from southwest monsoon in the state has been so far conducive to paddy cultivation. Some intermittent pre-monsoon showers in the last week of May and mid-June helped in sowing of paddy seedlings by making the soil moist. As of now, there have been optimum rain for proper growth of paddy seedlings in the nurseries,” said Anil Jha, an expert in the agriculture department.
As per the practices in paddy cultivation, once the seedlings are grown into saplings, then they are transplanted from the nurseries to the fields. This is done by plucking the paddy saplings from the nurseries using hands and planting them in the field, which should ideally have knee-deep water. “From now on, rainfall up to 30 to 40mm would be needed at least once a week to provide the required amount of water in the fields. Light and intermittent rain would not fulfil the requirement. A few spells of incessant rain is needed to support the transplantation process for paddy saplings,” said Jha.
Paddy transplantation is feasible from beginning of July to mid-August when around 1.5-2ft standing water is required in the nursery as well as the agricultural farms.
Tillers also seem to be upbeat with the trend of monsoon rainfall this year. “Though some paddy seedlings dried up around early June but that was due to lack of pre-monsoon showers at that time. Later, the required amount of rainfall was received,” said Yashwant Kumar Singh, a farmer from Rohtas.
Though the rain god seem to be favouring the farmers still the agriculture department has come up with its own contingency plan to tackle any scanty rainfall condition in the coming months.
“In case of drought-like condition, farmers would be given subsidy on procurement of diesel. This means that the farmers would have to buy diesel for artificial irrigation purpose on their own and after submitting a certified copy of the cash memo to kisan selahkar (farmers’ adviser), after which they would receive the reimbursement. The subsidy on procurement of diesel for paddy farming would be given at the rate of Rs 25 per litre for up to six irrigation spells, which would also be subject to maximum subsidy amount of Rs 250 per acre,” said Dhananjay Pati Tripathi, joint director (input), agriculture department.
Rain till July 9
Weathermen have claimed that monsoon is likely to be active in the state till July 9 followed by normal rain thereafter. “The ongoing spell of rainfall due to active monsoon supported in eastern India by a cyclonic circulation over Bay of Bengal is likely to continue till July 9, wherein most parts of the state would receive moderate rainfall. Heavy rainfall warning has also been issued for several eastern and north-eastern districts,” said Ashish Sen, director, Patna Meteorological Centre.