W.Bengal to help farmers grow alternatives to paddy to beat iffy rains

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on July 16, 2012 Published on July 16, 2012

In order to counter the likely dip in paddy output following truant monsoons across the State, the West Bengal Government is planning to formulate a policy to grow alternative crops this year.

The State Government will aid the cultivation of crops like hybrid maize, sesame, black gram (urad) and khesari dal (Lathyrus sativus) — a cheap but protein rich variety of pulse — in various parts of the State.

The seven North Bengal districts (Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad) have witnessed heavy rainfall this year.

South Bengal on the other hand has seen delayed and scanty rainfall so far during this year.

According to Mr Paritosh Bhattacharya, Additional Director, State Agriculture Department, sowing of alternate crops would commence in August if the paddy cultivation does not pick up to the desired levels.

“Sowing and transplantation of paddy can take place till August 15. So if we get good rains by then, we will not have any problem. In case monsoons aren’t as good as expected, then we will have to go for these alternate crops,” he said.

Paddy production

West Bengal produces about 14.5 million tonnes of paddy every year in three seasons — Aus, Aman and Boro.

Aman (paddy) is sown during the monsoons around the third-fourth week of June.

The South Bengal districts of Burdwan, Birbhum, Nadia and Hooghly have the highest productivity and account for about 27 per cent rice acreage and 32 per cent production.

Alternative crop

Some of the alternatives would be sown in the districts of West Midnapore, Bardhaman (West), Bankura, Birbhum, Purulia and Malda among others.

“Till now there is no reason to be worried, however, if rainfall does not pick up by the end of July or early August then there could be some signs of worry. We are therefore putting in place an alternate plan to help farmers,” Mr Bhattacharya said.

The cultivation of crops like hybrid maize, urad and sesame could start sometime in late August and early September; while that of khesari dal or grass pea can start as late as in October.

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Published on July 16, 2012
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