The Telegraph
Sunday , August 3 , 2014
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Cloud on paddy transplant

Patna, Aug. 2: The drought-like condition looming large over the state seems to have taken a toll on agriculture activity too.

Paddy transplantation has been carried out on just 54.18 per cent of the targeted cover area till Friday.

Looking at the figures, agro-meteorologists are of the view that paddy yield this year would be affected as most of the transplantation is carried out between July and August 15. In the absence of good rainfall during this period, overall paddy transplantation across the state would not be able to cross 70 per cent.

“Paddy transplantation is feasible from the beginning of July to the middle of August. Therefore, the ongoing fortnight is extremely crucial for the health of paddy saplings. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted light rainfall in the state on Sunday and moderate rainfall over the next two days. Even if that much rainfall takes place, the overall paddy transplantation would be hit, if the rain is followed by a dry phase till August 15,” said I.B. Pandey, in-charge of Agromet department at the Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, Samastipur.

Experts in the agriculture department attributed the low transplantation coverage so far to the dry period from July 10 to July 30.

The state received 82 per cent deficient rain in the second week of July. This was followed by 23 per cent deficient rain in the third week of the month and 54 per cent deficient rain in the last week of the month.

“Farmers are facing tough times in the absence of monsoon rains. Due to low moisture content, the soil has become extremely dry in most states. Even if the expected amount of rainfall takes place, farmers would have to depend on manmade irrigation sources for getting transplantation of paddy done,” said Anil Jha, an expert in the state agriculture department.

The state cabinet has already sanctioned Rs 769.06 crore to be distributed among farmers as diesel subsidy, a drought measure.

It sanctioned another Rs 16.18 crore to be spent on a Contingency Crop Scheme under which an alternate crop would be cultivated in the event of scanty rainfall or a drought.

The Met department has forecast normal or 10 per cent less than normal rainfall in the state in August.

The state has already received 380mm of rainfall between June 1 and July 31 against the expected 512mm, which means a rainfall deficiency of 23 per cent.

According to farmers, though the situation is better than what it was last year (see chart), the required amount of water is not there in the fields. “It has been raining intermittently, but it has not been sufficient enough. Transplantation of paddy saplings requires around 1.5 to two feet of standing water in the nursery and the farms,” said Sudhanshu Kumar, a farmer from Samastipur district.

“While many farmers manage to irrigate nurseries it is not feasible to arrange for the volume of water required for transplantation,” he said.

The kharif season begins with the arrival of south-west monsoon and ends in September. Sowing of kharif crops begins around early June and is followed by transplantation in early July. Harvesting starts in the middle of September or early October and continues till January and the procurement lasts till April.

The paddy belts in Bihar are spread over the districts of Rohtas, Jehanabad, Patna, Bhojpur and Nalanda among others, mostly in north and central Bihar.