Bhubaneswar: Farmers in 20 of the 30 districts of the state are staring at a drought-like situation and they are yet to commence agricultural activities owing to scant rainfall this monsoon.
Till August 14, the state has received an average rainfall of 51 mm compared to the normal 150 mm – the deficit being 66 per cent. What may aggravate the situation is that the metrological office has predicted rainfall in the range of only 30 mm to 40 mm till August 30. As a result, the soil moisture is likely to dip up to (-) 4 cm.
According to a senior official of the state Agriculture Extension Service department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Good rainfall is crucial in August as it facilitates sowing activities. The crops reach the flowering stage in mid-September. Any rise in aridity during this period will be detrimental for the crops. Moreover, if the aridity extends up to mid-September, farmers will stare at crop loss.”
In fact, no district in the state comes under the wet category. As per the estimation of the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI), Keonjhar, Jajpur and Bhadrak are extremely dry districts, while Sambalpur, Balangir, Angul and Gajapati are known to be severely dry. On the other hand, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Subarnapur districts fall under the moderately dry districts. The remaining districts come under the mildly dry category.
A report of the Pune-based Indian Metrological Department (IMD) said all the districts in Odisha recorded negative SPI values during the period from June 1 to August 21. This reveals a dip in soil moisture, in addition to very scanty rainfall. So it is not surprising that transplanting as well as broadcasting of paddy in rain-deficit areas have been held up due to water scarcity. At the same time, the crop condition is getting worse due to growth of weed. “If the condition persists for a few more days, it would be difficult to save the crops,” said a senior officer of the state Agriculture and Farmer Welfare department.
As the state is witnessing a drought-like situation, the government last Tuesday directed the Agriculture department to prepare a contingency plan to save the Kharif crops from the nature’s wrath.
Agriculture Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo and Cooperation Minister Ranandra Pratap Swain reviewed the crop situation in the state at a high-level meeting. The Water Resources department has been asked to release water from all reservoirs. The Lift Irrigation Corporation has been directed to operationalise all lift points in areas facing acute shortage of water. The district Collectors too have been directed to take stock of the situation and prepare advance plans for Rabi crops, especially in areas where it may be difficult to save the Kharif crops. (More P3)