About 95 percent of Jharkhand’s arable land, meant for paddy and other Kharif (summer) crops, is lying fallow due to a 43 percent monsoon rain shortfall, according to government data.
Farmers are worried as the overall coverage of Kharif crops is only 5.32 percent against the total target of 28.27 lakh hectares of land till Wednesday.
The coverage of paddy, the main crop of the season, is mere 3.15 percent against the target of 18 lakh hectares. The coverage was recorded only from six districts where direct sowing is going on. Seedling transplantation did not take place in any of the districts till July 6, according to the sowing coverage data of the state agriculture department. Similarly, the coverage for pulses remained at 3.16 percent and coarse cereals at 4.31 percent. The same is slightly better for maize at 20.54 percent and oilseeds at 13.97 percent. However, the monsoon is expected to revive soon in the state and there is no need to worry, government officials said.
A farmer from Ranchi’s Chanho block Virendra Yadav told PTI that agriculturists of his Taranga village have raised paddy seedlings in the nursery but could not transplant them due to inadequate availability of water in the field. “We are hoping for good rainfall this week. If rainfall remained scanty for the next 10-15 days, we may face a drought-like situation,” said Dinanath Bhagat, another farmer. In Jharkhand, farmers generally prepare their farm fields for sowing from mid-June, and sowing activity starts full-fledged by July 1 and goes on till July 31. For the past few years, farmers have been going for sowing till August 15 due to delayed and scanty rainfall in the early months of monsoon, experts said. “The rainfall is enough for upland sowing but it is not adequate for middle and low land sowing. The ideal season for transplanting is July 15 or it may go up to July 20 for good yield. ”Nowadays, farmers go for sowing till August 15 but yield goes down. So, if rains remained scanty for a week or more, it would be a matter of concern,” Director Research and Dean of Faculty of Agriculture of Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) SK Pal told PTI. He said that the agriculture department has asked them to prepare a contingency plan in case of poor rainfall in the coming weeks. Overall monsoon rainfall deficit has been recorded at 43 percent till July 6 in Jharkhand. The state has received 141.3 mm of rainfall against the normal rainfall of 246.2 mm from June 1 to l July 6.
Twelve districts out of 24 are facing a deficit between 50 percent and 75 percent. Sahebganj recorded the highest shortfall at 75 percent followed by Chatra at 68 percent and Pakur at 64 percent. However, state agriculture department officials said the situation is still normal and there is nothing to worry about. “Monsoon has been slightly delayed and rainfall remained scanty till now. It would not impact paddy sowing if there is good rainfall in the next few days. Farmers are ready with their seedlings and they are waiting for adequate rainfall for transplanting the seedlings to fields,” Deputy Director at state agriculture department Mukesh Sinha said.
He said, “Last year had been one of the great years in terms of Kharif sowing and harvest. But, the sowing situation was almost similar in the first week of July. We hope the situation will improve by the next week as the weather department is predicting good rainfall.” The meteorological center at Ranchi has predicted that the monsoon could revive from July 10 with the expectation of fairly widespread rainfall across the state. “Light to moderate rainfall will be recorded in parts of Jharkhand till July 9. Thereafter, the monsoon is expected to revive once again over the state. This will help increase rainfall distribution and minimize the rain deficit,” said Abhishek Anand, in charge of the Ranchi Meteorological Centre.