SAMBALPUR: With just a few days to go for the agrarian festival of Nuakhai, people here are at a loss with ripe paddy stalks of traditional varieties yet to make an appearance in the markets.
Usually celebrated with pomp and gaiety, customarily each household offers the first grains of the harvest to the local deity and then partakes it. The paddy is given importance as it is considered a symbol of manifestation of life itself.
Locals said only ripe stalks of traditional paddy varieties are used during the festival and those available in the markets now are hybrid ones. These days, more and more farmers are preferring hybrid paddy varieties as these require less labour and produce more. Moreover, many traditional paddy varieties have become extinct.
Chittaranjan Hota, who has been working for conservation of traditional paddy varieties, said Phailin followed by two spells of heavy rain took a toll on paddy cultivation, resulting in dearth of stalks.
He said in non-irrigated KBK region, people were cultivating around 400 traditional paddy varieties earlier but it has gone down drastically now.
He said a short duration traditional paddy variety ‘Saria’ was grown in non-irrigated belts of Padampur and Nuapada this year and its stalks will be available in markets soon.
Deputy Director of Agriculture, Sambalpur, Ashok Kumar Mohanty said stalks of short-duration paddy will reach the markets before Nuakhai which will be celebrated on August 30.