This monsoon, rains have been swinging between the extremes in Odisha. It is either deficient or excess. Long periods of dry conditions have been followed by deluge or the vice-versa. The overall rainfall estimate may not show a clear picture, but a detailed analysis shows that farmers have been left clutching their heads because of the extreme conditions. In the last eight weeks, the State has reported at least four weeks of either deficient or scanty rainfall. By the week ending August 21, the State received 875.1 mm rain, reporting an 8 per cent higher rainfall than the normal of 810 mm.
A closer look, however, suggests that as many as 15 districts have reported at least five weeks of deficient rainfall out of a total 11 weeks this rainy season.
Similarly, 10 districts have reported excess rainfall during the period June 1-August 21.
The result __ bad news for the farm sector though overall crop coverage stands at a healthy 48.51 lakh hectare against a target of 61.5 lakh hectare this season. Since there is another five weeks to go for the monsoon season to end, the crop coverage will further improve, but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Balasore district exemplifies what has hit the farm sector this monsoon. In the five weeks of July, it recorded a series of severe deficiency __ the week ending July 3 reported a deficiency of -89 per cent followed by -99 per cent in the next week. Heavy showers led to a sudden turnaround in the situation and rainfall position jumped to excess of 45 per cent in the week ending July 17.
The next week was deficient again (- 48 per cent) and was followed by an excess rainfall of 66 per cent.
The month of August saw two weeks of huge deficiency __ ranging from -34 per cent to -55 per cent __ followed by a deluge in the week ending August 21 when the rainfall figure showed an excess of 136 per cent.
Another northern district Mayurbhanj, which reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall, saw three weeks of deficient rainfall in July which ended with a whopping excess shower of 336 per cent.
The first two weeks of August saw deficient rainfall of -73 per cent and -53 per cent, while the week ending August 21 saw an excess rainfall of 171 per cent.
This pattern of extreme weather has been the mark of the monsoon across the State.
In Western Odisha, the rain shadow region of the State, Kalahandi started off the rainy season with excess rains __ 72 per cent (June 12), 295 per cent (June 19) and 181 per cent (June 26). The month of August also saw deficiency, just like Sambalpur district which reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall and two weeks of excess ones this season. Southern districts like Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Malkangiri have faced similar scenarios __ excess rainfall or dry periods.
Coastal Odisha has been witness to this pattern in no less than other regions. Kendrapara district has reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall and five weeks of excess showers, ending with a -14 per cent rainfall by August 21.
Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur districts have been witness to eight and seven weeks of deficient rainfall, respectively, leaving the farm sector in the lurch.