Agri Business

Drop in rainfall may hit Bengal rice transplantation

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on July 23, 2013

Delayed transplantation may affect productivity and quality of the crop.

A near 25-40 per cent drop in rainfall in the key rice growing districts of Gangetic West Bengal so far during this year is likely to impact the paddy transplantation activity this kharif season.

Transplantation is the process of transferring seedlings, which are grown in seed-beds, into the field soaked with plenty of water. Typically, the process of transplantation begins by July 10.

According to a senior official in the State agriculture department, nearly 10-15 per cent of paddy transplantation is usually achieved by this time of the year. However, this year, transplantation has been lower in most paddy producing parts of the State.

“Only five per cent of the transplantation work has taken place at Burdwan while in Birbhum and Nadia, it is still lower at just about 1-2 per cent,” the official told Business Line.

West Bengal produces about 14.5 million tonnes of paddy each year in three seasons — aus, aman and boro.

The kharif paddy (aus and aman) output accounts for about 70 per cent of paddy production in the state. Delayed transplantation could affect the productivity and quality of the crop.

Lower Rains

Burdwan – considered to be the rice bowl of the State received 25 per cent lower rains than average this year. Rainfall has also been lower by 39 per cent in Birbhum, 31 per cent in Nadia and 27 per cent in Hooghly, according to a data provided by Express Weather. These four districts are considered to be high productivity areas in terms of paddy cultivation.

The districts of North 24-Parganas, Murshidabad, Bankura, Malda, East Midnapur, West Midnapur, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Howrah are considered to be medium productivity areas. Except for Bankura, North 24 Parganas and North Dinajpur, rainfall is lower by 20-40 per cent in the other districts falling under the medium productivity areas.

Production

The State Government has targeted to sow paddy on close to 42 lakh hectare in 2013-14, similar to last year’s level.

However, the State expects to produce two per cent higher crop at around 110 lakh tonne this year as compared to 108 lakh tonne of aman paddy last year.

“If the rainfall improves then we expect a higher yield and better crop this year,” he said.

Anxious Farmers

Meanwhile, farmers in the State, who had suffered huge losses in 2012 due to crash in open market price of paddy (below the minimum support price levels) and poor procurement by rice mills at the support price, are keeping their fingers crossed to get better prices for their produce this year.

The Centre has hiked the minimum support price for common grade paddy by Rs 60 a quintal to Rs 1,310 for 2013-14 (July-June).

“Currently we are getting close to Rs 1,380 in the open market. We just hope that the rains improve so that we can get a better crop and sell them at good prices this year,” said Salauddin Mullah, a farmer of Boromuriya village in Burdwan district of West Bengal.

shobha.roy@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 23, 2013

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