Deficit rainfall – A cause of woe for Odisha farmers

Deficit rainfall In Odisha, during the months of monsoon has majorly impacted the agriculture, especially in the coastal districts of the state.

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As the end of the Hindu month of Shravan, the month of monsoon, gradually nears to its end, farmers in the state are usually busy with various agricultural activities. However, the deficit rainfall during this monsoon has been a huge setback for most of the farmers in the state. The deficit rainfall has caused a two-fold stumbling block with the pandemic issue at hand.

The farmers were hopeful and had expected a good Kharif season this year when there was a good amount of rainfall during the initial days of the southwest monsoon. Situations changed when after the onset of the southwest monsoon, the amount of rainfall drastically reduced especially in the coastal parts of Odisha. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the reduction of rainfall activity in the state occurred because of the movement of the trough line towards the foothills of Himalayas. This period is usually termed as the ‘break phase’.

But the ‘break phase’ of the monsoon has now been going on for a while now, and several districts in the state are now reeling under the impact of the deficit rainfall. The IMD Regional Centre in a report stated that six coastal districts of Odisha, i.e., Puri, Khurda, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Cuttack, and Balasore have received around 20-59 per cent of deficit rainfall. Puri is said to be the worst hit among them all because of receiving 47 per cent deficit rainfall. The scenarios from Athagarh in Cuttack, Soro and Bahanaga in Balasore and Sadar in Jagatsinghpur provide enough proof to the facts stated.

Pramod Kumar Das, a farmer from Jagatsinghpur said, “The July month is nearing an end and the sowing should have been completed. However, there is no rainfall and the canal is also dried up. Though we are complaining to the administration, they are not paying any heed.”

“The paddy saplings were sown, but the plants are dying due to lack of rain. Canal water is also not being released. We are spraying some amount of water to keep the land moist, but that is not sufficient,” said Batakrushna Behera another farmer from Jagatsinghpur.

In an interview with the regional news channel, OTV, the Executive Engineer of Irrigation Department, Jagatsinghpur, Pratap Kumar Satpathy said, “Weeds had developed in the channel of Taladanda canal. Cleaning is underway and the weeds will be cleared after two days. Thereafter, about 1000 cusec of water will be released and we will be able to supply sufficient water to all canals.”

These areas have been nearing towards drought-like situations. The fields which usually were filled with knee-deep water are laying dry. Some farmers are even letting the cattle graze their dry paddy fields. There are farmers who have sown the crops with the help of lift irrigation. But the crop growth has been poor and the farmers are wary of the production and are filled with uncertainty.

The farmers of the Soro and Bahanaga blocks of Balasore, a district which has around 1,97,871 hectares of land, appear to have the added misery of low germination of seeds. The farmers have complained that the seeds bought from the government stores are not germinating properly. When the Soro agriculture officer, Dhirendra Nath Mallick, was contacted, he said, “None of the farmers has visited our office and filed written complaint regarding germination problem of seeds. Our field-level staff are visiting the grounds and organising meetings every Monday to address the grievances of the farmers.”

As of 21st July, 19 districts of the state are experiencing deficit rainfall. The state, when taken as a whole, is facing 5 per cent deficit rainfall as compared to the long term average. The canals have dried up, and irrigation facilities are minuscule. The deficit rainfall has hampered agricultural activities all throughout the state and put the farmers on the edge of the peril of huge losses.

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