Drought looming large, input cost of paddy crop escalates

  • Neeraj Mohan, Hindustan Times, Sangrur
  • Updated: Jul 15, 2014 01:47 IST

With a drought-like situation looming large in the state following a below-average monsoon so far, farmers in the district are worried that they will not get a bumper paddy crop this year.

Now, the farmers are running from pillar to post to protect their crops from the scorching heat to reduce its impact on the produce.

A less rainfall has also increased the input cost as most of the farmers are using diesel generators to pump water while others have switched over to expensive varieties of basmati such as Puasa 1121 and Pusa 1509 which require less water.

Rajinder Singh Sohi, chief agriculture officer, Sangrur, said only 14 mm rainfall was recorded in Sangrur district in June against 44 mm during the corresponding period last year.

The total rainfall in July so far is below 5mm this year.

Agriculture experts say that as per traditional methods paddy crop needs about 3000-3,500 litres of water to produce 1 kg rice and a lesser rainfall might bring down the farmers' margins.

As the electricity supply to the agriculture sector has also gone down to 5 hours from earlier 8 hours a day, the farmers are now dependent on diesel pumps to irrigate their crop, which costs about Rs 500 per hour.

Even as officials of the district agriculture department are asking the farmers to sow short-duration and drought-resistant crops such as maize and pulses in the land not sown yet, the latter are reluctant to adopt these crops which fetch them less money.

In Malerkotla and Dhuri, farmers have been urging the state government to allow them to use 25 hp motor pumps since 20 hp water pumps are not able to meet their need.

"If we use a water pump above 20 hp, we will have to pay hefty electricity bills like commercial consumers. But with the groundwater level going down, 20 hp water pumps have failed to meet the requirement. Now we request the government extend the free electricity scheme up to 25 hp water pumps to protect farmers from a draught-like situation," said Niranjan Singh, a farmer from Dhuri.
Besides, a small hike of Rs 50 in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy has also dismayed the farmers here.

"The input cost, especially the prices of fertilisers and diesel, has increased but the government has turned a blind eye to farmers. Rs 50 hike in the Minimum Support Price of paddy is an insult to the farming community," said Avtar Singh, a farmer from Sangrur.

Sangrur district has topped the state in per hectare rice yield with 47.24 quintals. It has also topped the state in rice production with 12,90,000 tonnes contributing 11.5 per cent to the total rice production in the state.

This year, the farmers in the district, which has a total 2.70 lakh hectare area under paddy cultivation, are finding it difficult even to meet the expenses.

The poor monsoon has also worried the dairy farmers as the price of fodder has also increased to Rs 600 per quintal.

"The deficiency of rain will also affect milk production as we are already facing shortage to wheat fodder and green grass," said Gurpreet Singh, a dairy farmer from Malerkotla.

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