Pawar admits: Paddy in rough weather

Admitting that delayed monsoon is posing a serious problem,Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: July 11, 2009 5:35 am

Admitting that delayed monsoon is posing a serious problem,Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Friday acknowledged the worrying situation in prominent paddy-growing regions in the north. Pawar told Rajya Sabha: “The real and serious problem is essentially in Punjab,Haryana,Delhi,western UP,parts of Bihar and Himachal Pradesh. The problem is serious throughout India,but particularly in these regions it is more serious.”

Pawar said the government had got a “contingency plan” prepared for kharif crop to tackle the problem of deficient rains and has provided additional seeds to state governments. “We have prepared two plans. One is normally prepared prior to monsoon. Under this plan,we provide seeds,fertilisers,pesticides to all states. This has been done. The second contingency plan is prepared when sowing operation is complete. Suppose there is no rain,the farmer will have to sow again. In such a situation,we require additional seeds. The second plan is also ready,” Pawar said. “Right now,we are going ahead with the first plan and I hope the situation will improve,” he added,pointing towards improvement in some other regions in the last one week. He expressed hope regarding improvement in crop situation as the monsoon progresses during this month.

While the Met department pointed to improvement in rainfall in many meteorological sub-divisions,it accepted that the situation had “deteriorated” in sub-divisions in north-west India with Punjab,Haryana,western UP being the “worst affected”. “As compared to last week,there is improvement in distribution as well as intensity of rainfall in the country except over north-west India,” it said on Friday adding,“the worst affected (rainfall deficiency of 60 per cent or more) are: (i) western UP (ii) Uttarakhand (iii) Haryana,Chandigarh & Delhi (iv) Punjab (v) Himachal Pradesh (vi) Gujarat region”. 

Though Pawar was forthcoming in acknowledging the situation,the officials at Krishi Bhavan continued playing hide and seek by obfuscating the data regarding the progress of sowing of kharif crops. For the second consecutive week,the officials held back the release of statistics pertaining to the weekly region-wise and crop-wise progress of kharif crops. Riding on the progress of kharif crop in central and eastern India,which witnessed rainfall last week,the ministry obfuscated the data by presenting a cumulative sowing pattern to present a rosy picture. The ministry also refrained from furnishing year-on-year cumulative comparative data,and presented a comparison with the last week. “This is all that the ministry has to present to the public,” Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Manoj Pandey said when asked about region-wise and crop-wise data on a year-on-year basis.

According to the data released,the sowing of paddy crop has increased by 95 per cent over the last week. The statistics pointed out that the coverage of oilseeds by the end of this week jumped by 58 per cent as compared to sowing till last Friday. While the sowing of coarse cereals went up by 150 per cent,the sowing of pulses went up by 90 per cent over the last week.

The officials may try to paint a rosy picture,but the Met department has pointed towards a 34 per cent shortfall in seasonal rainfall for the entire country,with 25 of 36 sub-divisions witnessing deficient or scanty rainfall.

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