VELLORE: The department of agriculture has devised a strategy to promote crops depending on the level of rainfall during this monsoon. The officials said, if the district experiences normal rainfall during the rabi plantation season, the farmers will be encouraged to cultivate paddy. However, if the rainfall falls below normal, the focus of cultivation will be on millets, pulses and other oilseeds.
Despite deficit rainfall during the south-west monsoon (between June and September this year), which was around 424 mm as against the normal 439 mm (2013 - 492 mm was recorded) farmers in Arakkonam, Nemili, Kaveripakkam, Wallajah and Arcot blocks had opted to cultivate paddy during the kharif season.
With the target set of cultivating 26,100 hectares for paddy, only 15,885 ha yielded paddy cultivation. Cultivation of millets, however, surpassed the target of 15,800 ha with 16,782 ha devoted to the cultivation of Cholam, Cumbu, Ragi and Maize.
Cultivation of pulses (redgram, blackgram, greengram, horsegram, cowpea, bengalgram) and oilseeds (groundnut, sesame, castor, sunflower) was done in 20,018 ha and 33,483 ha respectively both falling short of target. Cotton and sugarcane cultivation, however, exceeded targets set with 15,320 ha being devoted for their cultivation as against the target of 14,000 ha.
“If northeast monsoon is normal in the next two months, farmers in the eastern region would take up paddy cultivation in 30,000 ha during the rabi season,” a senior official of the department said. If the rainfall is below normal in the area, the cultivation of millets would be increased to 16,700 ha, pulses to 18,700 ha and oilseeds to 10,200 ha.
Under normal rainfall conditions, the district should receive around 385 mm of rains. During October, the district received around 64 mm of rains. Last year during the same month, the district had recorded around 152 mm of rains and there is already a deficit of 101 mm of rain.
The decision to cultivate any particular crop, going forward, depends entirely on the level of rainfall in November. There is optimism and expectation of good rainfall in November. “The rainfall during the north-east monsoon usually helps in recharging the groundwater table while sustaining the farming activities until next summer season,” noted a farmer Mani of Wallajah, who has already planted paddy in his farmland.