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Bihar: Moderate to Heavy Rains Bring Hope for Paddy Farmers

With half of Bhadon month already passed, rains have given farmers hope that they might save their standing crops.
Farmers plant paddy saplings in a field, during Unlock 2.0, in Patna on Tuesday.

Farmers plant paddy saplings in a field, during Unlock 2.0, in Patna on Tuesday. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: ANI

Patna: Moderate to heavy rains lashed across Bihar, except in a few districts, in the last 48 hours, bringing smiles to hundreds of thousands of rice-growing (paddy) farmers. They were waiting for this rainfall after a long dry spell that had triggered fear of drought.

With half of Bhadon month already passed, rains have given farmers hope that they will save their standing crops, for the time being at least.

While the rains have come as a respite for the people suffering from the scorching heat and unbearably high humidity, they have also provided much-needed relief to farmers as fears of another drought have been haunting them.

“For paddy growing farmers like us, the rains have come as a boon. It will help rainfed crops to survive. We have been facing a challenge to irrigate standing crops after somehow transplanting paddy seedlings last month by using a diesel pump. After being transplanted farmers were facing poor or scanty monsoon rains that threatened to hit paddy production,” said Damodar Rai, a marginal farmer in the Vaishali district.

Till last Friday, Rai and most of the farmers have been facing difficulty to save their standing crops due to poor monsoon this time. Paddy cultivators had faced an acute water crisis during Sawan as well as ongoing Bhadon.

With more rainfall expected in the coming days as per the Met department predictions, the farmers, as well as agriculture scientists expect that the rainfall deficit may come down.

The weatherman has issued a warning of heavy rainfall in over half a dozen districts on Monday.

According to agriculture department officials, the Supaul district recorded 60 mm rainfall in 13 hours on Sunday, which was much more than expected by farmers. As per the official data, Supaul received only 110 mm of rainfall in August till 27 (August).In July Supaul received 158.5 mm rainfall this year.”

Still more rains require for standing paddy crops in September because there were less rains this time,” said Dr Manoj Kumar, agriculture scientist at Raghopur Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

Similarly, Samastipur district recorded 75 mm rainfall in 12 hours from Saturday night till Sunday morning. During the same period Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, West Champaran, Darbhanga, and Kishanganj, districts received more than 40 mm of rainfall.

Dr Abdus Sattar, a climate change expert at Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University at Pusa in Samastipur district, said rainfall on Saturday and Sunday will be beneficial for paddy crops. "This rainfall is good for rice growing farmers as they were worried about how to irrigate standing crops after a long dry spell," he said.

As per the rainfall data so far, it is clear that the state recorded a significant deficit in rainfall. This badly delayed the transplantation of paddy seedlings, and those farmers who had transplanted paddy struggled to irrigate. An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Centre, Patna, said that Bihar recorded 457 millimetres (mm) of rainfall from June 1 to August 28. This was less than 40% less than the normal rainfall.

Most of the farmers in south Bihar districts including Gaya, Aurangabad, and Nawada of the Magadh region, where farmers are facing a drought-like situation, moderate rains in the last two days provided some hope and water for paddy.

Taking a serious note of the poor monsoon, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar undertook an aerial survey of several districts facing drought-like situations ten days ago. Earlier he held a meeting to review the situation. Kumar directed officials to do all necessary preparations to provide help to farmers facing deficient rainfall. He has asked district officials to ensure an uninterrupted power supply for 16 hours in rural areas for farmers to help them irrigate their standing paddy crops, which require water. He also directed the concerned officials to provide seeds for alternative crops to farmers.

The state agriculture department has already alerted the districts and asked the officials concerned to prepare for the cultivation of optional crops that require less water.

After a gap of two years, the demand for declaring a drought has surfaced in the state. Unlike this year, Bihar received surplus rainfall in June, July, and August in 2021 and 2020. Farmers were happy as paddy output increased. With a large part of the state in the grips of a drought-like situation, it is set to affect paddy production

Demand to declare drought is rising by the day in the state. For the new government of Janata Dal-United and Mahagathbandhan that was formed last week, ignoring farmers' demands is not easy as their main social support base lies there.

The State government has so far not declared any district drought-hit.

Monsoon normally hits the state between June 12 and 14.

An estimated two-thirds of Bihar’s 12 crore population and nearly two-thirds of all agricultural activity are dependent on yearly monsoons.

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