To deal with the possibility of a deficit monsoon, the agriculture ministry has suggested sowing of short- duration varieties of paddy, pulses, oilseeds and other less water-intensive crops in the northern India regions for curbing possible crop losses.
In its first advisory for the northern Indian region, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), a premier institute under the ministry of agriculture, has suggested transplanting of short duration paddy varieties of Pusa Basmati 1509 and Sugand 5 which could be sown in the later part of the July in the irrigated areas.
Besides the advisory has also asked farmers to take up cultivation of corn, bajra, oilseeds and pulses such as mungbean (green gram) and arhar (pigeon pea) in areas with limited irrigation facilities in place of paddy so that the crop losses could be minimised.
According to A K Singh, a rice breeder with IARI, the 1509 Pusa basmati variety which was introduced for cultivation in 2013, takes only about 120 days to mature against more than 140 days required for popular Pusa 1121 rice variety.
“The Pusa 1509 basmati variety is suitable in case of deficit rainfalls in the northern Indian regions,” Singh said. In case of rainfed areas also, the advisory suggests, growing of pulses and oilseeds.
While the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the prediction has stated that the monsoon rains (June– September) would be 88% of Long Period Average (LPA) for the entire country, for the north-western region, the rainfall is expected to be only 85% of LPA.
On the method of cultivation, the advisory recommended adoption of direct seeding in the case of paddy as it would cut down on water requirement for the crop.
The Haryana government recently has said that it would promote direct sowing of paddy in the state to save water and reduce cultivation cost. “In Haryana, the agriculture department will set up demonstration plants over an area of 32,000 acres to promote direct sowing of paddy during 2015-16,” Haryana agriculture minister O P Dhankar said.
The agriculture ministry advisory also noted that in case of delay in monsoon arrival in the northern India beyond three weeks, bajra, mungbean and arhar could be sown as late as third week of July. Monsoon rains usually arrives in northern regions by end of June.
“Growing bajra (pearl millet) and lobia (black-eyed peas) is critical for fodder in case of deficit monsoon,” a senior official with IARI said.
Besides, the agriculture ministry advisory recommends use of farm yard manure and balanced fertiliser applications based on soil test and higher use of potash.
Meanwhile, according to IMD, the south west monsoon after hitting Kerala coast on June 5 has further advanced into remaining parts of south-interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and southwest Bay of Bengal and some parts of north-interior Karnataka and Rayalaseema.