Bihar, Jharkhand told to plant suitable crops to fight deficient rainfall

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 12 2013, 08:27am hrs
With key rice-growing states like Bihar and Jharkhand getting scant monsoon rains this season, the agriculture ministry has suggested that farmers in the two states should plant short-duration paddy varieties and maize, pulses and oilseeds if deficient rains continue for another week.

The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), in its contingency plan for the two rainfall-deficient states has suggested that if good rainfall occurs up to 15thAugust, short-duration varieties such asTuranta, Prabhat, and Saket-4 may be transplanted in medium and low land situation.

The farmers have also been advised to grow pulses such as Urad, Arhar, Bajra and sweet potato in upland and medium-land areas.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) data say so far the country has received 15% more rainfall compared to the long-period average (LPA), calculated on the basis of the average annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000.

However the eastern and north-eastern states have got only 67% of the normal rainfall, which has affected paddy-sowing.

Bihar and Jharkhand have got little rainfall after monsoon rains hit the Kerala coast on June 1. Both states, with large areas under rain-fed farming, have got a huge rainfall deficiency of 31% from the LPA.

CRIDA in its report has stated that the worst-affected districts in Bihar include Gaya, Aurangabad, Munger, Siwan, Patna, Vaishali and Nawada, and the transplanted crop is facing moisture-deficit stress.

The worst-affected districts in Jharkhand are Koderma and Chatra, with below-70% deficit rainfall and no rice transplanting has been taken up so far whereas Khunti, Lohardaga, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Gumla, Latehar and Ranchi districts received less than 50% rainfall compared to the LPA, the CRIDA advisory to the farmers stated.

The situation in Bihar, Jharkhand and many north-eastern states has been grim, because of which paddy transplanting has not been completed, Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), a Cuttack-based national institute under ICAR, told FE.

Mohapatra said the situation of paddy transplantation would be assessed only after next forth-night. The ministry of agriculture would be releasing data on kharif rice sowing today.

By and large, there have been good rains everywhere and farmers have started sowing activity. This is a good sign. I will be able to give the final data on sowing by the second week of August, said agriculture minister Sharad Pawar recently.

Rice production during 2012-13 was 104 mt, out of which 90 mt was grown in the kharif season. Due to poor monsoon in 2009-10, paddy production fell 14% to 89.09 mt.

The total area under rice cultivation in the country is estimated at around 44 million hectare. More than 88% of the rice is grown in the kharif season and sowing usually continues till the end of August.

Meanwhile, as per IMD data, while the north-western region has received 21% excess rainfall till now, the central Indian region has received over 41% more rain than normal. Even the southern peninsula has received 28% excess rainfall.