Heavy showers have flushed away paddy seeds from most of the agricultural land across the districts of Hooghly, Burdwan, Nadia, Purulia West & East Midnapore and Howrah, adversely affecting Amon production, the second crop of the Kharif season. Continuous heavy showers have flooded the fields more than that it was required. This has put farmers in a suspect that their sow has been washed away. “This shower could have been better after a few days after our sow got stabled and the shoots got a little longer and stronger. However, there is still opportunity to sow afresh if we are able to drain out the excess water from our fields,” Baidyanath Ghosh, a farmer, in Mamudpur of Hooghly district said. While Bikash Mukherjee of the same village felt the situation was flood-like and a release of water from the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) will overflow the canals and flood the lands spreading across districts. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the situation was not grave enough to declare the state as flood affected.
West Bengal irrigation minister Rajiv Banerjee said the government has asked DVC to release water within a limit of 10,000 cusec from the dams of Panchet and Maithon, which can prevent the state from floods. According to a DVC statement, heavy showers have raised the water level in rivers and dams, adding 28,500 cusec water in Panchet and 9,500 cusec in Maithon. This has necessitated release of water, for which the catchment areas within the district of Burdwan, Hooghly and some parts of West Midnapore may get affected.
“Cultivable land getting partly flood-affected may lower Amon paddy production by 10-15%,” Arun Bose, scientific assistant in West Bengal Rice Research Centre said, adding that with seeds sweeping away, many farmers might not get an opportunity to sow again. In some cases crop intensity might reduce, in some cases crop yield might be low and in some cases the yield might be of very poor quality as to be not marketable. However, heavy rains during the Amon season often results in good Boro or winter crop but that is only 30% of the total production.
West Bengal produces an average of 105 million tonne rice per annum from 5.8 million hectares. The districts of Burdwan, Hooghly, Nadia and Birbhum have the highest rice productivity with 32% share of the state’s total rice production and about 27% of acreage. Paddy production spreads across three seasons — Aus and Amon , the two kharif crop and Boro the winter crop. Crop intensity is as high as 176%. West Bengal produced 104.32 MT of paddy in 2015-16, lower by 1.17 MT of production than the preceding year in a scenario of failed Amon.
But Aus and Boro yields were successful, Pradip Majumdar, chief minister’s agricultural advisor said. While it would be too early to comment on whether the paddy of the current season will be successful or not and what may be the production scenario at the end of the entire crop cycle, the government has targetted yield of above 105 MT with more cultivable land bought under irrigation and improved variety of seeds given to farmers, Majumdar said.
However, selling the produce has become easier with the paddy taken directly to mandis. “I got Rs 830 per 60 kgs including my carrying cost to the mandis from my field,” said Gurudas Mukherjee of Mamudpur. The government had offered minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,470 per quintal (100 kgs) for common grade and Rs 1,510 per quintal for higher grade in 2016-2017. This has been increased by Rss 80 per quintal in FY18, West Bengal agriculture department officials said.