Scanty rains in Bihar and drought like situation in 280 blocks in the last kharif season has cast its adverse impact on paddy production, which has registered a record low in the last five years.This means the state’s rice production has come down and could affect the food sufficiency.As per the latest data collected by agriculture department, paddy production in last kharif season has been only 60 lakh metric tonnes as against the target of 102 lakh metric tonnes in 2018-19.Even wheat production in the last rabi cycle is not encouraging, with around 59 lakh metric tonnes of production against the target of 72 lakh metric tonnes.The paddy production figure has quite alarmed the agriculture department, which had estimated at least 78 lakh metric tonnes in the second round of crop cutting. “The latest data of paddy production is really low and could be attributed to the deficient rains and drought like situation in 280 blocks. It might affect the food sufficiency in coming days,” said Sudhir Kumar, principal secretary, agriculture department.Last year, the state received around 20% less than normal rainfall in the monsoon season.Data for the past five years shows rice production has hovered around 80 lakh metric tonnes. In 2012-13, the rice production was 83.22 lakh metric tonnes while in 2013-14, it was 66.74 lakh metric tonnes. In 2014-15, it rose to 82.41 lakh metric tonnes only to drop substantially in 2015-16, when production was 68 lakh metric tonnes. In 2016-17, rice production reached 82 lakh metric tonnes while in 2017-18, it was 80.93 lakh metric tonnes.Deficient rains in Bihar over the past few years has also taken a toll on paddy coverage area, which is expected to go down from 34 lakh hectares last year to 33 lakh hectares this year.“The input cost coupled with deficient rains has made sowing the paddy crop less cost effective for farmers, who are now switchingFalling short of targetto alternative crops, especially maize. That is not a good sign as it would affect rice production and food requirement of the state,” said a senior official in the agriculture department.The Bihar government has already distributed Rs 925 crore as monetary assistance to 14 lakh farmers to compensate crop damages due to drought like situation in 280 blocks spread over 25 districts in Bihar. An additional Rs 200-300 crore has been sanctioned by co-operative departments for giving assistance to affected farmers.Evidently, falling productionof foodgrains has come up as a big challenge for the state this year and agricultural officials are now busy making plans for the last few weeks to tone up the irrigation facilities to provide adequate water to farmers during the sowing season of rice, which would start from July.“The agriculture department is preparing a comprehensive plan to provide all necessary help to farmers during the sowing season of kharif crop. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will review the preparations on Monday ,” said the principal secretary, agriculture department.