Dry days ahead: Govt tells farmers to go for direct sowing, less water-consuming crops

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 2 2014, 07:05am hrs
To cushion the blow of a delayed monsoon that has hit kharif sowing hard, the agriculture ministry has asked farmers to prepare their land and nurseries for direct sowing of paddy (sans re-planting of saplings) and suggested cultivation of less water-consuming crops such as arhar, urad, pigeon pea, groundnut, maize and soyabean.

The National Agromet Advisory Services, a joint initiatives by India Meteorological Department (IMD) and ministry of agriculture, in its latest area-specific report has suggested the farmers in eastern regions --- West Bengal and Odisha to continue land preparation and direct sowing of kharif rice with the available rainfall and continue sowing of maize, arhar and cotton in Bihar. It has recommended sowing of maize, pigeon pea, urad, moong, groundnut, soybean and sesame in Jharkhand..

If July rains are as per prediction of met department, the farmers should go in for direct transplanting of paddy to deal with around two weeks delay in monsoon rains, a senior official with agriculture ministry told FE.

For the farmers of Punjab, the advisory has suggested completion of transplanting of rice with irrigation as most parts of Punjab and Haryana have irrigation facilities.

Give first dose of nitrogen to counter the high temperature and to minimize the burning of cotton seedlings. Save the young fruit trees from high temperature by erecting thatches of rice straw. If rain is not sufficient, apply irrigation at regular basis and increase the frequency of irrigation at critical growth stages of crops, the advisory has noted.

For Vdiarbha farmers, the government advisory has said as mainly dry weather is expected in the next few days, irrigation should be applied to rice nursery, early sown kharif cotton, summer vegetables and orchards.

Complete preparatory tillage with the help of recent monsoon showers and keep the fields ready for sowing of kharif crops like cotton, soybean, red gram, jowar, green gram, sunflower, black gram, it noted.

For southern regions, the agriculture ministry has urged farmers to continue nursery sowing of kharif rice, maize, groundnut and red gram in Karnataka. Continue land preparation for nursery sowing and direct sowing of rice and planting of rain-fed sugarcane in the the north coastal zone of Andhra Pradesh, the ministry said.

Till Monday, the monsoon rains have been deficient by 43% of the Long Period Average (LPA), calculated on the basis of a 50-year average rainfall of 89 cm.

In June, only 10% of area has received 'normal' rainfall so far while 62% of area continue to be deficit in terms of rainfall received. The most worrying aspect is that a huge 28% of the country has received little or scanty rainfall since early June when the monsoon entered Kerala coast.

The IMD had forecast that monsoon rains this year would be 93% of the LPA, with a 33% probability of deficient monsoon rains and 70% chances of a recurrence of the El Nino effect, which had caused the worst drought in 37 years in 2009.