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UP: Wilting paddy and parched fields, farmers worried

Agricultural experts estimate that up to 90 percent of paddy cultivation may be affected. If there is no rain, pulses as well as vegetable crops will also be affected.

Lucknow/Kushinagar/Basti— The unexpected and atypical changes in the weather are affecting agriculture. First, it started to get warm already in the month of March itself. The premature heatwave damaged the wheat crop, and there was a 25 percent reduction in the mango crop as well. Now, in the midst of the scorching heat and the prolonged wait for rain, the paddy seedlings standing in the fields are on the verge of withering. Agricultural experts are also saying that the coming week is crucial for the kharif crops, including paddy.

J.P. Gupta, director of the regional meteorological centre in Lucknow, said that the monsoon in Uttar Pradesh [UP] is dependent on moisture-laden winds blowing in from the Bay of Bengal. This time, however, a low pressure area formed over Orissa and northern Andhra Pradesh which pulled the monsoon winds in that direction. In UP, the temperatures and relative humidity levels required for rain are not being reached.

Pyare Lal,Agriculture Officer, Kushinagar District, said that this season is suitable for the transplantation of paddy seedings and for growin gurad [black lentils], toor [pigeon peas], jowar [sorghum],bajra [pearl millet], makka [maize], white sesame and some vegetables. If there is no rain within another week, then the paddy, pulses and vegetable crops will be adversely affected. In the rain by the end of July, it will be fortunate if 10 percent of the paddy has been transplanted. In such a situation, up to 90 percent of the crop can be impacted.

The heavy cost of tubewell irrigation

Abhishek Kumar, a farmer from Lodhaura Pradhan village panchayat, Kothawa block,Hardoi district, said, “Out of 55 gram panchayats in the block, only 25 gram panchayats have access to canal irrigation. The rest of the agricultural holdings rely on tubewells, and this has a cost. It takes 12-13

hours to water 1 Bigha [of land]. The cost per hour comes to Rs 225. But in the scorching sun, as soon as watering is done, the land starts to dry out.”

Farmer Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Basti district,told us, “These are drought conditions. It hasn’t even rained a few raindrops. If this situation persists, I will water it once or twice, and then I will leave it alone.”

Anuj Sharma, Sapaha. [Photo: Brijesh Sharma, The Mooknayak]

Anuj Kumar Sharma (28), a resident of Sapahavillage panchayat,Kushinagar, says that the lack of monsoon rains is proving to be unfavourable for the already transplanted paddy with cracks already having appeared in the [parched] fields.

Motilal Prasad, a local resident. [Photo: Brijesh Sharma, The Mooknayak]

Local resident Motilal (70) tells us that there was no rain even at the time of transplanting, due to which [paddy] cultivation has become difficult. Now the paddy crop is beginning to dry out.

Electricity also playing hide and seek

Low voltage and power cuts have added to the problems. Even the tubewells installed for the farmers are not being able to pump up water (there is no groundwater coming up). At the same time, the problem of water in the canals has certainly ended, but not all farmers are getting the benefit of canal water. This water is available only to those farmers whose fields are near canals.

Only 78 percent of land is irrigated

Kushinagar district has 4,62,694 land holdings, occupying a total area of 2,32,507 hectares; and 97 percent of farmers are small and marginal farmers. At the same time, of the net sown area of 2.25 lakh hectares, 1.71 lakh hectares, that is, 78 percent, is irrigated. Due to the weak monsoon, alternative means are being used, due to which the cost of agriculture has increased.

Agricultural insurance is essential

Agricultural experts say that in these situations, farmers should have crop insurance. The last date for insuring of paddy crop is July 31. The premium for insuring a 1-hectare crop will be Rs.1,200. In this, the government will pay out an insurance amount of Rs.42,000 per hectare in the event of crop failure, a calamity, or drought. Under the PM FasalBimaYojana, camps will be organized at every block and tehsil level from July 15.

What are those in responsible positions saying?

UP Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi says that the state government will not let farmers be left out alone under any circumstances. With the support of the Jal Shakti Department, water is being made available to the farmers for irrigation.

Former UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, while tweeting a video made an ironical comment with regard to the lack of rain.

[If one BJP MLA taking a “mud bath” does not bring rain, then the turn will come of the rest too. The public is waiting.]

यहाँ हिन्दी में भी पढ़ें: यूपी: सूखने लगी धान की पौध, खेतों में पड़ी दरारें, किसान चिंतित

[Story Translated By Lotika Singha]

Dadasaheb Tandale
Dadasaheb Tandale
Dadasaheb Tandale Consulting Editor The Mooknayak. He was NOS Scholar, GOI, SAADA Fellow

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