In the backdrop of disaster management department’s warning that Bihar was facing drought threat, agriculture experts are divided over whether kharif food production would be less in Bihar, or would be only marginally less. Whatever be the outcome rains between now and September 15 would be crucial for kharif yield.
Indian Counci for Agricultural Research (ICAR) weather-based agro advisory said on Sunday that light rainfall occurred at a few places in the state during the past few days leading to around 70 to 80% of paddy transplanting and maize sowing across the state. The transplanting has been very poor in Bhojpur, Munger and Buxar districts, ICAR added.
However, transplanted paddy is facing moisture stress in many parts of the state as maximum temperature ranged from 32.3 C to 34.0°C and the minimum from 24.4°C to 26.9°C. Sowing of vegetables like ladyfinger, brinjal, cauliflower, chilli and radish crops has begun, while plant protection measures against ladyfinger pests, weeding in transplanted paddy crop and sowing of arhar in upland areas were in progress, ICAR stated.
According to K M Singh,head, socio-economic training and extension, ICAR-Research Centre for Eastern Region (RCER), Patna, the overall situation in paddy growing areas of north and northeast Bihar and the maize producing Kosi region was satisfactory. “With a rainfall deficit of 15-20% food production may decline only marginally, not substantially,” he added. If at all, the situation worsened, we might face a reduction of 10-20% in food production, Singh asserted.
Earlier this month chief minister Nitish Kumar had said the prospect of drought loomed over Bihar due to inadequate rainfall in 179 out of total 534 blocks, which received less than normal rainfall since June, affecting paddy and maize cultivation. He had noted prices of fodder too had risen.
The disaster management department last week had saidpaddy and maize coverage in Munger, Bhagalpur, Jehanabad and Jamui districts, besides Magadh division, had been generally poor, due to inadequate monsoon.
In sharp contrast, S S Singh, head, crop research, ICARRECER,Patna, said, rainfall deficit up to 20% would not be able to affect paddy and maize crops much. He admitted rains between now and September 15 would play a crucial role in deciding Bihar’s kharif food production as paddy flowering took place between October 20 and 25.
“If we have enough rains, paddy crop would not face moisture stress. However, less rain would mean a loss of 15-20% of late transplant variety of paddy,” he said. Normally transplanted and late transplanted paddy might also face vegetative and reproductive drought due to rainfall deficit, he added.