Agri Business

Paddy harvesting suffers setback in Amphan-battered Bengal

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on May 29, 2020 Published on May 29, 2020

Harvesting of boro paddy (the rabi crop), which was already bearing the brunt of labour shortage and unfavourable climatic conditions, has been further impacted due to the cyclone Amphan.

Per current estimates, production of paddy is estimated to be lower by around 15 per cent this season as the crop, which was ready to be harvested, has been affected by the cyclone. While the paddy which fell off due to the impact of the cyclone is likely to get contaminated with fungus, the standing crop is likely to be of inferior quality with the grains getting damaged and discoloured.

The State produces close to 70 lakh tonnes (lt) of paddy in the rabi season each year. The production is estimated to be close to 60 lt this year.

According to Sushil Kumar Choudhury, President, Bengal Rice Mills Association, the impact can be seen across major paddy growing districts including Burdwan, Birbhum, Purba and Paschim Medinipur, North and South 24 Parganas.

“On one hand, we had the cyclone Amphan last week which impacted the crop and then just two days back we had a severe thunderstorm (Kalbaisakhi) which made it difficult for machine harvesters to go into the fields as it was submerged,” Choudhury told BusinessLine.

Delayed harvesting

It is to be noted that the harvesting of boro paddy, which is sown sometime in October, usually commences by the third week of April and peaks by end April or early May. However, this year sowing of the crop was delayed due to cyclonic weather and untimely rains. Naturally, harvesting also got delayed. This was further accentuated by the shortage of labour on the fields as most of them had gone back to their villages due to the pandemic scare.

The State government had brought in some additional combine harvesters from other States to facilitate harvesting.

Procurement in full swing

The State government has ramped up its procurement process to prevent farmers from opting for distress selling, said Pradip Kumar Mazumder, Chief Advisor (Agriculture) to the Chief Minister.

“Procurement is going on in full swing and there is no shortage……we are flush with stocks. The procurement is mainly to ensure that there is no distress sale by farmers,” he said.

Demand has been flat as the government has been providing rice to people and this has also helped keep prices steady despite the anticipated drop in production.

The State government is also extending pre-kharif support to farmers registered under ‘Krishak Bandhu’ so as to ensure that financial problems do not affect the next cropping, Mazumder said.

Published on May 29, 2020
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