Although many parts of the city experienced slight showers on Thursday, concerns of the region's farmers about deficient monsoon in villages are deepening as they fear their newly sown paddy crop may be irreparably damaged. Rainfall recorded till July 15 in the district has been 65% lower than in the previous year. According to data from the agriculture department, there was only 28 mm of rain against 130 mm during the same period last year.
For the first time in the past five years the paddy sowing process has been prolonged inordinately. The district recorded an area of 2.09 lakh hectares area under paddy till date against the total target of 2.30 lakh hectares. However, agriculture officials were expecting to cover an area of 2.21 lakh hectares till date.
Meanwhile, fields in the Rajpura and Ghanaur blocks in the district have been severely affected due to the deficient rainfall as most of the area under cultivation is dependent on rainwater for irrigation. With the Ghaggar river, from which many villagers in Ghanaur and Devigarh used to fetch water, drying up, the farmers are now looking to the rain gods to save their crops.
"With no mechanical irrigation systems available, we either depend on water from the Ghaggar river or the monsoon, but now with the deficient rainfall the situation has turned very grim", said Niranjan Singh, a farmer in Kishangarh.
Another farmer, Barjinder Singh of Massinghan village, said many farmers had not even sowed paddy and were waiting for the rain to irrigate their fields. "We can't afford to rent temporary water pipes from tubewells belonging to large farmers", he added.
Chief agriculture officer Inderpal Singh Sandhu said the scanty rainfall had become a serious cause of concern as the heavy rainfall forecast by the meteorological department had not materialized so far. "Though it's too early to predict how the paddy crop will be affected we're much behind our sowing target. Many of the farmers in Rajpura and Ghanaur have stored 1509 variety seeds to sow them later when the rain arrives. If it rains heavily for a few days the paddy crop may be saved, otherwise conditions will deteriorate in the coming days," he added.