Heavy downpour on Tuesday has caused widespread damage to the paddy and basmati crop in the border districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran. "We are still assessing the damage caused to the paddy and basmati crops, teams have been sent out for this task," Amritsar chief agriculture officer (CAO) Balwinder Singh Chinna told HT here on Wednesday.
Paddy and basmati occupy around 1.86 lakh hectares of the agricultural area in the district of Amritsar. As the rains were widespread, every agriculture block in the two border districts has suffered losses. However, the exact loss to the paddy and basmati will only be known after the two crops are harvested. But rough estimates suggest that 35 per cent of the standing crop has been hit by the rains in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.
Chinna said where ever the rains were heavy and accompanied by winds, lodging has taken place in the fields occupied by paddy or basmati. Lodging is a term used when the standing crop falls to the ground and according to Chinna this is prevalent in fields where farmers had added extra doses of urea over and above the recommended dose. The extra dose made the standing crop heavier resulting in the plants bending over and falling under their own weight.
"Lodging will mean an extra expenditure for farmers at the time of harvest. As combine harvesters cannot be used in fields where lodging has taken place, the farmer will have to get the paddy or basmati cut manually, which would mean spending more money," added Chinna.
The CAO further said lodging will also affect the yield as well as the quality of the harvested crop in the case of paddy and basmati. The grain can lose its original colour and can turn blackish.
The rains will put a stop to the harvesting of the PUSA-1509 basmati variety, which had started arriving in the mandis of the state. Overall the harvesting of paddy and the PUSA-1509 and PUSA-1121 basmati varieties will be delayed by a week. Paddy harvesting was scheduled to commence on October one. On Tuesday, the average rain recorded in Amritsar district was 165 mm while in Tarn Taran it was 152 mm.
The rains will also affect the germination of winter vegetables in the vegetable belts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts. Proper germination may not take place resulting in the farmer sowing the crop once again and adding to his cost. However, the rains are good for green peas that is if this crop has already been sown. Green peas grow best in low temperatures and the rains have lowered the temperatures considerably. The high temperatures had affected the growth of the crop in the border areas.
Rattan Singh Randhawa, a progressive farmer of the Attari block and also a kisan union leader, said the untimely rains had dealt a severe blow to the farming community. Around 40 per cent of the paddy and basmati crop had suffered losses in Tarn Taran and Amritsar, he said while quoting reports that he had received from different blocks of the two districts.
"The farmers were already reeling under the losses due to the extremely low rates that they were getting for their PUSA-1509 variety. Now these rains will not only affect the overall yield of the crops but will also affect the grain quality," he added while retreating his demand for crop insurance.
However, the rains did not have much impact on the Punjab--386 basmati variety, which is harvested in November. This is the traditional aromatic variety and has often been described as the 'real basmati' and it fetches the farmer very good rates. But due to its low yield the variety is sown in small pockets in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts.