When the rain was most required by the farmers, the monsoon eluded them and they went about pumping out precious groundwater so that their paddy and basmati crops could be saved.
Now when they would prefer the weather to remain more dry than wet, the rain has come pouring down.
Their hopes of a healthy yield of paddy of 59 to 60 quintals per hectare could well be dashed to the ground if the weather does not clear-up in the next 24 hours.
After a virtually dry August, the first five days of September have been extremely wet, much to the dislike of the farmers. The average rainfall recorded in Amritsar district in the first five days of the current month is around 113 mm and the weatherman’s predictions for the next 3-4 days is causing worry to the farmers.
“If these wet conditions persist and rains continue, farmers may suffer heavy losses in terms of their paddy crop. They fought the drought by pumping out groundwater to save the paddy but against rain they feel helpless”, Amritsar chief agriculture officer (CAO) Paramjit Singh Sandhu said here on Friday.
Talking to HT, Sandhu said that as of now, only those paddy and basmati varieties which were sown early will be affected by the rains. Some of these varieties, like ‘Sharbati’ or PUSA-1509 (basmati) which are early maturing, will suffer a loss of yield due to these rains, he said while pointing to reports of water-logging having taken place in paddy fields in certain parts of the district where the rains were fairly heavy.
“As of now the late varieties have not suffered any damage but if the rains persist, then losses, as far as yield is concerned, will occur”, he added.
The month of August this year received the least rain as compared to the previous years. According to statistical data with the Agriculture Department, this year, August recorded a mere 22 mm rain which was even less than the rain for this month in 2009 and 2012, the two years when the monsoons failed in Punjab.
In 2009, August recorded 68 mm rain while in 2012 it received 66 mm rain. In 2010 also August received low rainfall (77 mm).
June, July and August are the vital months when paddy and basmati needs a great deal of water. In September this requirement, particularly in the case of paddy, becomes negligible as the crop starts moving towards maturity.
This year in these three vital months, the average rainfall recorded in the Majha region (barring Pathankot district) was a mere 97 mm, the lowest in the last decade or so.
Referring to the rainfall data of the last 10 years, Sandhu said that 2012 was the year when the period from June-August recorded the least rainfall. The total for the three months was 206 mm, he said.
“This year is the worst, with the monsoon having failed in Punjab. Such drought like conditions have never been experienced in the state”, he added while pointing out that this drought has come about after a good monsoon last year, when the Majha region received 531 mm rain.