After a seemingly agonising wait for the monsoon, many farmers in the sandy districts of Malwa region have started ploughing their standing paddy crop, suffering losses in the process.
Damage to paddy saplings has occurred due to acute shortage of canal water and absence of rains till date in the region. At this stage, paddy fields need at least three inches of standing water. But, at present, the soil in several fields is only moist. Many paddy fields in the region can be seen without a drop of water, making farmers wait for elusive monsoon to meet shortage of irrigation water.
"Monsoon arrival has been delayed and this has compelled me to take this extreme step of plouging my standing paddy crop. The quality of ground water in our village is not that good for irrigation," said Hripal Singh of Gobindpura village near Bathinda who had ploughed his three acres on Thursday.
"These three acres were taken on contract and we paid Rs 40,000 for each acre. We have been suffering huge losses," he rued.
The districts of Bathinda and Mansa have sandy soil that is not originally meant to sustain water-consuming crops like paddy. It is more suitable for cotton, guwara and other crops which can survive on available water.
Farmers who switched over from cotton to paddy cultivation this year after suffering repeated losses due to fall in yield of cotton and manifold increase in input costs have been hit more since they have now been forced to plough the standing paddy crop.
On an average, farmers have suffered losses of Rs 1,500 per acre spent on sowing and later tending the paddy saplings.
Haripal is not the only farmer in the region to plough his damaged paddy saplings. Many others have also been forced to plough paddy fields due to the shortage of both power and water supply.
"There is acute shortage of power. We are getting power for only 4 to 6 hours daily. It is not enough for paddy saplings," said Mukhtiar Singh, a farmer of Jassi village in Bathinda.
Interestingly, many farmers who are ploughing their standing crop due to shortage of water are waiting for monsoon so as to again sow paddy saplings.
"I will prefer to sow paddy again since it is not possible to go for another crop at this stage. We are looking forward to sowing hybrid paddy that can be sown till July 15. But it will not be possible if monsoon did not come soon," pointed out Haripal.