Amid Pandemic Scare, Monsoon Showers Bring Smile to Paddy Farmers in Bihar

After years of deficient rainfall and floods due to heavy rainfall last year, the timely monsoon rains have resulted in paddy sowing on a large scale across the state.

Patna:While the fear of COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow in the country, Dhananjay Singh and Kameshwar Rai, both marginal farmers from Bihar, have had some relief after they completed paddy sowing by the third week of June, unlike the past few years. This was made possible by the above average rainfall in the last ten days since monsoon arrived in the state.

For those engaged in kharif cultivation like Singh and Rai and hundreds of thousands of other farmers across the state, the rains have come as a boon. These farmers have had to face poor or scanty monsoon rains regularly in the last one decade which had badly affected paddy sowing, transplantation and yields.

Except in 2019, when over 3% more than the recorded rainfall resulted in floods in over a dozen districts in Bihar, the state has been facing deficient rains for years.

According to annual rainfall reports (Rainfall Statistics of India) of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Bihar gets 1,027.6 mm rainfall in a normal monsoon year and its average annual rainfall including pre-monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter is 1,205.6 mm.

From 2012 to 2018, the state received deficient rainfall. In 2018, monsoon was poor as there was a rainfall deficit by 25%. This forced the state government to declare drought in 24 of 38 districts and also impacted paddy production which was 74.15 lakh metric tonnes as against the target of 102 lakh metric tonnes in 2018-19, according to Agriculture Department figures.

Farmers in Bihar are heavily dependent on monsoon rains for kharif crops, mainly paddy, which is a water intensive crop. With sufficient rainfall this monsoon, the farmers are happy.

“We are happy for more than sufficient rains during early periods of monsoon. It enables us to start paddy sowing early and we are hopeful to start transplantation either by next week or early July. After a long time, we are witnessing such continuous rains after monsoon reached Bihar on time on June 13,” Singh, a farmer of a village in Arwal district said.

He told NewsClick that there is no fear of drought like situation in Bihar this year. After several years, there is plenty of rain thanks to normal monsoon rains till date. “We hope to have a good paddy cultivation,” he said.

Rai added that paddy sowing is going on in full swing. “Many of us have completed and others would complete soon. This year paddy cultivation has begun on time due to availability of water following timely monsoon rains. After sowing, we will go for transplantation by the end of this month or early next month.”

Sushil Pathak, head of the department of Agronomy at Bihar Agriculture University at Sabour in Bhagalpur, said farmers are not anticipating a drought like situation because IMD has predicted a normal monsoon this year.

Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar on Monday, June 22, said that timely monsoon rains have resulted in paddy sowing on a large scale underway across the state. “As per information received by the agriculture department, more than 45% paddy sowing has been completed for the target of paddy cultivation in 33 lakh hectares this kharif season. Similarly. 26% percent of the maize sowing so far has been completed for the target of maize crop cultivation in 4.5 lakh hectares ”.

As per an official figure of the department, so far paddy sowing was reported in 1.47 lakh hectares.While maize sowing completed in 1.15 lakh hectares in the state.

Kumar admitted that poor monsoon or deficient rainfall followed by drought like situation in recent years in the state adversely affected paddy as well wheat production.

He added that paddy sowing has picked up momentum from Monday with the beginning of much awaited Adra Nakshatra, a period traditionally considered good for paddy sowing. He further added, that the government agencies have provided seeds to farmers through online methods, first time in view of the lockdown. Farmers were given seeds by home delivery .

Dr Abdus Sattar, Assistant Professor, Agrometeorology,at the Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University in state’s Samastipur district, said timely onset has brought smiles on the faces of farmers as they would be able to sow the nursery of paddy crops. Chances of more sustained rain in the coming weeks would keep the seedlings healthy and on time they would be able to transplant.

With more than two-thirds of the farmers dependent on rains, a good monsoon s often the difference between life and death for them.

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state’s domestic product, according to the state government’s figures.

Thousands of migrant workers, who have returned from outside, are reportedly seen engaged in paddy, maize, jute cultivation in the state. But majority of the migrant workers, who are landless are working as farm labourers in other’s fields to earn their livelihood.

But the threat of flood looms large in some North Bihar districts with heavy rains in Bihar as well as in catchment areas of major rivers in Nepal. The rise in water levels of river Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati and even Ganga are threatening to inundate hundreds of villages in half a dozen districts. Even in Patna, after heavy rain last week many parts were water logged, despite government claims that there will be no water logging.

Last year Patna witnessed worst water logging for days after heavy rainfall from September 27 to 30.


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