Lakhs of farmers across the state are staring at a drought-like situation due to dismal monsoon even as kharif sowing has declined by 2.09 lakh hectares in the state, followed by paddy crop at 1.95 lakh hectares, compared to the year-earlier level.
While a few districts along the Nepal border had to tackle floods, a startling 69 districts have received below normal monsoonal rains. Of these, 16 have recorded deficient rainfall (60-80 per cent), 34 have recorded highly deficient (40-60 per cent) and 19 districts have received scanty rainfall (below 40 per cent).
Overall, west UP has received only 254.2 millimetres, or 42 per cent of normal rainfall while east UP has received 410.8 millimetres, or 60 per cent of average rainfall. So far, paddy sowing this year stands at about 57 lakh hectares against a target of 60.45 lakh hectares. But now, the already shrunken paddy sowing is further threatened by scanty rainfall.
Barring jowar and bajra, most other kharif crops such as urad, moong, arhar (all lentils) and maize have also registered a drop in sowing.
UP agriculture director A K Bishnoi said, “We are advising farmers to go for 60-day toria crop (an oilseed) to minimise losses.” Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan has instructed all DMs to take up re-boring of 100 handpumps in every development block on priority basis to meet water requirement of farmers.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has also said that he will write to the central government for assistance in the affected areas. Meteorological department director J P Gupta said that monsoon will pick up in the next few days and light to moderate showers are expected to continue for a while.
Professor Sudhir Panwar of Lucknow University, who has been associated with farmer movements since long, said it was time the government rolls out drought schemes for the paddy farmers.
“The decline in paddy sowing will have little impact on the prices as stocks would be replenished through FCI reserves. However, it would be the farmer – who may have now opted for non-commercial crops – who would be bear the most impact; the state and central governments should roll out their drought schemes,” he said.