Paddy growers worry as rain delays harvest, floods mandis

Updated on Sep 25, 2022 02:38 AM IST

In Malwa, cotton fields are ready for the first round of picking but rain could spell trouble for the cash crop’s quality

A labourer struggling to save sacks of paddy from damage in the waterlogged Bhagtanwala Grain Market in Amritsar district after rain on Saturday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
A labourer struggling to save sacks of paddy from damage in the waterlogged Bhagtanwala Grain Market in Amritsar district after rain on Saturday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
By, Amritsar/bathinda/patiala

Paddy and cotton growers in Punjab are a worried lot as incessant rains on Saturday put harvesting on hold besides threatening to hit the quality of the crops.

Farmers in the Majha belt, where paddy harvest begins first, were left high and dry as sacks of the crop unloaded in the Amritsar grain market got drenched in the incessant rain with procurement yet to pick up.

At the Rajpura grain market, Malook Singh, a farmer who had come with his produce, said, “My entire harvest was drenched as there were no proper arrangements by the mandi board. Besides, standing crop is also in danger. It will take another 10 days to drain out the water and moisture from the fields.

“The government must order a girdwari and compensate farmers for the losses,” said Thakur Mann, another farmer.

Punjab agriculture department director Gurwinder Singh said, “At this stage, if rain continues for two-three days, it will affect yield and quality of paddy crop which is at the harvesting stage. If accompanied by wind, the rain may also cause the flattening of paddy crop, thus, making it difficult to harvest.

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor SS Gosal said, “Rain will have a negative impact on the paddy crop. It will lead to excess moisture-level, shrivelling and discolouration.

Rain and wind could lead to dropping of seed cotton on the ground from the plant, they said. Punjab brought 30.84 lakh hectares of area under paddy this season. Paddy procurement will start from October 1.

The state agriculture department has rushed it field teams to access the damage and issue advisory to farmers accordingly.

Sowing of veggies to be delayed

“The rain has delayed harvesting and it is likely to reduce the yield of paddy. As fields are inundated, we will not be able to run the harvest combine for around 15 days,” said Surjit Singh, a farmer from Bhoora Kohna village in the border district of Tarn Taran.

Amritsar chief agriculture officer Jatinder Singh Gill said, “The rain has delayed harvesting of paddy varieties, such as PUSA-1509, which has ripened. As farmers planned to sow potatoes and peas after harvesting this variety, sowing of these vegetables will also be delayed. As far as paddy varieties yet to ripen are concerned, the rain will affect their yield, too. Farmers need to monitor the condition of fields.”

Agriculture experts in Malwa said maturing crops might witness damage if the rain is coupled with strong winds.

Bathinda chief agriculture officer (CAO) Dilbag Singh said cotton fields are ready for the first round of picking but more rain could spell trouble for the cash crop. “The rain may not affect paddy as harvesting in Malwa is likely to begin after 20 days. But if winds hit the cotton-growing belt, it could affect the quality of the natural fibre,” he said.

Gurpreet Singh, who has the dual charge of Muktsar and Fazilka as CAO, said rainfall in September is an annual feature and the current climate is not a serious threat to crops in the semi-arid districts.

Excessive rain could hit potato crop, too

Manjeet Singh Rai, the president of the Bharti Kisan Union, Doaba, said that farmers were concerned about rains as it might affect the paddy yield. “This rain will also affect the growth of potatoes, especially in lower regions of Doaba,” he said.

Jalandhar chief agriculture officer Jaswant Rai, however, said the situation was under control. “We are focused on the bigger issue of stubble burning. At present, we are holding awareness camps to curb this annual problem,” he said.

(With inputs from HTC, Jalandhar, and PTI)

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