Rain scarcity posing threat to crop production in Bengal

Acute rainfall shortage in the farming belts of Gangetic West Bengal is posing a major threat to crop production in the state.

According to statistics of the state agriculture department, till July 11, there had been a 62 per cent deficit in normal rainfall in Gangetic West Bengal.

“Till date, the average rainfall in this pocket has been 65 mm, as against the normal average of 170 mm, thus resulting in a deficit of 62 per cent,” said a senior official of the state agriculture department who refused to be named.

As a result of this massive rainfall deficit, around 95 per cent of the farmland has remained arid during the current farming season. The worst-affected on this count has been paddy farming.

It is learnt that during the current season, the target for paddy sowing was for 42 lakh hectares of land. However, till date, paddy is sown only in 2.08 lakh hectares.

Again, out of 2.08 lakh hectares of land, sowing of Aus paddy has been possible for 1.1 lakh hectares of land, thus posing grave uncertainty for production of this particular variety of paddy during the current farming season. On the other hand, till date, Aman paddy can be sown in 97,000 hectares of land.

What has really kept the state agriculture department worried is the rate of rowing in East Burdwan district, which is traditionally considered as West Bengal’s granary.

Rowing for Aman paddy has been possible only on 3,280 hectares of land in this district, while the figure for Aus paddy is just 1,697 hectares.

According to agriculture expert and leader of All India Kisan Sabha, Samar Ghosh, the condition is really alarming as the seedbeds in majority of the farmland have totally dried out.

“To my opinion paddy production in West Bengal, especially Aus paddy, is heading for a massive shortfall this reason,” he said.

However, the principal agriculture advisor to the state government, P Majumdar feels that all hopes are not gone since generally in West Bengal, the work for rowing of paddy seeds continues till the middle of August and hence sufficient rainfall in the next few days can make up for the shortfall to a great extent.

Economist PK Mukhopadhyay feels that this change in the rainfall pattern will render sharecroppers of the state jobless this season.

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