ROURKELA/BALANGIR: With rain-fed Sundargarh staring at a drought-like situation due to a weak monsoon, district agriculture authorities on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, started field-level assessment of the extent of paddy crop loss to introduce mitigation measures. The district had targeted paddy cultivation on 2.09 lakh hectare out of total 3.13 lakh hectare farmland.
Survey began in many areas of the district with instructions issued to Assistant Agriculture Officers (AAOs) and Village Level Workers (VLWs) to assess crop situation at the gram panchayat (GP) level. In August, the district received an average of 138 mm rainfall as opposed to the normal average of 393.9 mm (65 per cent deficit ), adversely affecting all 17 blocks. July was no better, with 32 per cent deficit rainfall putting farmers of Lefripada, Hemgir, Subdega, Balishankara and Kutra blocks in deep trouble.
Scanty rainfall till July 20 had halted transplantation activities on over 74,000 hectare and inter-cultural operation on 20,000 hectare of land. While better rainfall towards July end resulted in completion of inter-cultural operation in direct sowing method by end of August, transplantation on 8,913 hectare of land could not be done. Furthermore, moisture stress condition in vast tracts of land in all three sub-divisions (Sundargarh, Panposh and Banei) is turning paddy plants yellowish brown along with farmlands developing cracks.
Chief District Agriculture Officer (CDAO) RC Nayak said GP level survery reports are expected in a week. “We have a report of failure of paddy crops over 839 hectare in Tangarpali, Lefripada and Sadar blocks of Sundargarh sub-division but the entire scenario would be clear after the survey,” said Nayak, adding that contingency plans would be prepared after with the help of scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendras 1 and 2. Farmers would be encouraged to opt for pre-rabi cultivation of rasi, biri, peanut, mustard and sunflower depending on soil moisture condition.
In 2018, the district was partially declared drought-hit with paddy crop damage standing at above 50 per cent in over 35,986 hectare and 33-50 per cent in over 31,554 hectare of farmland.
Balangir faces drought
Prevailing dry weather condition has spoiled hopes of farmers of a good paddy harvest this kharif season with thousands of hectares of farmlands cracked open due to aridity and saplings meant for transplantation wilted. This year, farming was possible only on 24,000 hectare with more than 33,000 hectare lying unutilised due to shortage of water.
An assessment by the Agriculture department noted that the district has recorded 78 per cent deficit rainfall (896.9 mm in June-August) with Muribahal block receiving the lowest rainfall this year. Post seeding-sowing activities have remained a non-starter, with all 14 blocks affected due to erratic rain and drying up of natural sources of water. Transplanting of old seedlings and beausaning operation were delayed in several blocks with seedlings on nursery beds hit by stunted growth. Balangir CDAO Baikuntha Sahu said decent rain is expected in the coming days and urged farmers to not panic.