Erratic monsoon wont impact rice harvest

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 03:53am hrs
Though the start of south-west monsoon has been less than satisfactory in some parts of the country, scientists from India's premier rice research institute, the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) have expressed hope that it won't have much impact on the final harvest and the country could produce a bumper crop this year.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that between June 1 and June 23, south-west monsoon rains across the country were almost 11% less than normal, more than the tolerable levels of 5-6% deficiency. For July and August though, the Met department has predicted that rains could be above normal in some places, which also includes the eastern states.

The traditional rice growing states of eastern India constitute Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chattisgarh and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, which account for 61% of the total rice area and 51% of total rice production in the country.

Till now there is no cause of worry and preparation of paddy cultivation in eastern states have commenced, TK Adhya, director of Cuttack-based Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) told FE.

He said farmers are engaged in the pre-sowing activities. Delay of a week or so is normal in case of paddy cultivation, Adhya said.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry in a statement last week stated that sowing of kharif crops is picking up.

Paddy has been sown in 2.4 million hectare as compared to close to 1.1 million hectare a week back, the statement said.

According to Adhya, CRRI has developed seed varieties which can withstand vagaries of the weather such as drought, flood and erratic rainfall to deal with any eventuality.

CRRI has developed the nuclear seed for a variety named Sahbhagi dhan which is tolerant to drought and has been recommended for release in key rice growing states such as Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh under drought-like conditions.

The variety is endowed with longer roots to draw moisture from deep layers of soil, and yields more than the traditional varieties.

Besides this, CRRI also has a variety named Swarna sub1, which can survive for around 15 days submerged in water.

"Last year, we released a water-tolerant variety with crop duration of only 145 days which can withstand complete submergence for 15-17 days without perishing and can be grown easily in flood-prone areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa," he said.

Rice production in 2009-10 fell by around 14% because of poor rains.