Kharif sowing: With low rains in June, 5 eastern States need a contingency plan; all eyes on July

Prabhudatta Mishra | | Updated on: Jul 04, 2022

KARNAL, HARYANA, 21/06/2022: Paddy transplantation in full swing, but the extended dry spell, coupled with delayed monsoon and insufficient power supply to the agriculture feeders, has left the farmers high and dry at Karnal, Haryana on Tuesday. The government had announced cash incentive of ₹4,000 for direct seeded rice (DSR) method, which requires 70% less water and 30% less input cost than the traditional method. But most of the farmers are still in the favour of the traditional method and waiting for the rains to prepare their fields for transplantation.Photo: V. V. Krishnan / The Hindu | Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

At 16.44 lakh hectare until July 1, the acreage is just 8% of the season’s normal

The five Eastern States – Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar - which together contribute one-fifth of the country’s total kharif sown normal acreage of 1,073 lakh hectares (lh)-- have seen hardly any progress in sowing this season due to lower-than-normal rainfall in many districts.

With below-normal rainfall expected in July, the region will have to be ready with a contingency plan as 60-65 per cent sowing normally gets completed in the first two months of the monsoon season. Kharif sowing in the five States has reached 16.44 lh until July 1, which is just 8 per cent of the season’s normal acreage of 202.87 lh in these States.

“July is very crucial as it is also the wettest month of the monsoon season and any significant drop in precipitation could adversely affect sowing operation,” said an official.

However, there could also be some relief if more number of low pressure systems build up in the Bay of Bengal which is seen to bring rains in these States, particularly in West Bengal and Odisha, experts said.

“From June 27, monsoon is in good phase and has also covered the entire country earlier than normal. The July forecast for the country is also normal rainfall – 94-106 per cent of LPA, though some Eastern States may have lower rains. But that was a broad forecast,” said M Mohapatra, Director General of India Meteorological Department (IMD).

He said due to a likely low pressure, Odisha may get good rainfall in the next 7-10 days that may help in the overall precipitation for the month. Such low pressures are not captured in the monthly forecast as usually the Met Department predicts it before five days.

The monsoon rainfall deficit in Bihar is 3 per cent and in West Bengal 4 per cent whereas it is as high as 41 per cent in Jharkhand, 29 per cent in Odisha and 23 per cent in Chhattisgarh. Overall kharif sowing is down by 6 per cent in West Bengal, 24 per cent in Bihar, 44 per cent in Odisha, 45 per cent in Jharkhand and 65 per cent in Chhattisgarh as on July 1 from year-ago period.

Paddy sowing

Normal area under paddy, the main crop of kharif season in this region, is 161.94 lh whereas sowing has been completed in only 3 per cent of the area. Sowing of paddy needs to be enhanced to catch up with last year as about 60 per cent area got covered in June-July 2021.

The climate aberrations are here to stay as seen in the floods in Assam and other States, said a senior Agriculture Ministry official. He also said that States need to be prepared in such circumstances in advance so that in case farmers require late sown varieties of paddy due to delayed or inadequate rainfall, such seeds must be made available on time. States can also advise farmers to shift from paddy to some suitable pulse crops in those areas, he added.

According to IMD data, as many as 15 out of 19 districts in West Bengal are deficient, whereas the number of parched districts is 23 (out of 30) in Odisha, 23 (out of 24) in Jharkhand, 21 (out of 38) in Bihar and 15 (out of 27) in Chhattisgarh.

“As the number of rainy days has come down without disturbing the overall quantity of rainfall, the timing and spatial coverage of monsoon is key to ensuring a good harvest,” said the Agriculture Ministry official. The government has targeted foodgrain output of 163.15 million tonnes (mt), including 112 mt of rice in kharif season of 2022-23 crop year (July-June). The country had 154.93 mt of foodgrain output, including 111.04 mt of rice in kharif 2021-22.

Published on July 03, 2022
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