UMERKOTE: With kharif season underway, farmers across Nabarangpur are a distressed lot as inadequate rainfall and irrigation have affected transplantation and subsequent activities in the district.
According to the meteorological department, Nabarangpur has received 50 per cent less rainfall than last year. The district has received total 166.03 mm rainfall till now as against 336.73 mm in the corresponding period last year.
Farmers are in despair as the water level is receding in catchment areas and most lands in the district are parched. Nabarangpur district has 2,01,421 hectares (ha) of arable land of which 1,01,517 ha are under paddy cultivation. However, this year, only 95,823 ha is under cultivation.
In addition, poor irrigation has compounded the distress of farmers. While water levels of rivers and streams are low in Nabarangpur, the district does not have any large and medium irrigation facilities except check dams. As per statistics, only 17 per cent of the district’s land is irrigated. Surprisingly, over 67 villages in Nabarangpur were submerged by the Indravati Project but none of them has access to the reservoir water. The project is catering to only Kalahandi district as of now while displaced families here which are living in camps have no additional support to irrigate their farmlands.
Besides Bhaskel Dam in Umerkote, the district has no other source of irrigation water for farming. However, the reservoir’s storage capacity has been reduced to 60 per cent due to siltation and lack of maintenance. Sources said, the reservoir has not been cleaned since its establishment in 1961 and this has impacted its catchment capacity.
The State government had planned to increase irrigation land up to 35 per cent within 2020 but to no avail. Farmer leader Khemraj Bagh said farmers in the district are a stressed lot right from the start of farming activities with issues like shortage of fertilisers, irrigation, crop failure and procurement irregularities. Besides, paddy and maize cultivation in forest land are not even taken into government account for support facilities.
District Director of Agriculture Satyaprakash Samantray said Nabarangpur has about 65,470 ha irrigated land. Due to low rainfall compared to last year, only 45 per cent of the paddy fields have been cultivated so far. If there’s no rainfall in the next seven days, farmers are likely to face a drought-like situation and crop damage is imminent, he said.