Kharif crops take a severe hit by intense and unprecedented rainfall across India
IMD has asked to postpone the sowing or transplanting of paddy and sowing of other Kharif crops like maize and pulses in at least 11 states and Union territories.
A delayed southwest monsoon had earlier impacted Kharif season crops with low soil moisture. Record-breaking, heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in different regions, especially in the northwestern states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, has now dealt a crushing blow by inundating the fields of already sown crops.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has advised farmers to drain out excess water from their fields so that standing crops are saved from rotting.
Meanwhile, just in the last one week, the IMD has asked to postpone the sowing or transplanting of paddy and sowing of other Kharif crops like maize and pulses in at least 11 states and Union territories.
Maize and cotton crops seem to have been affected the most, with farmers staring at heavy losses.
Sukhvinder Singh from Shankarpur village in Punjab’s Patiala district, had two hectares of ready to harvest maize crop, which is now submerged in water. He still hopes to save some of tall standing crops when the water recedes.
The National Agromet Advisory Services Bulletin issued on July 10, 2023 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and IMD asked farmers to remove excess water from maize fields, “as maize is very sensitive to standing water”.
This precautionary measure is crucial as standing water can have a detrimental impact on the crops, which can lead to stalk rot.”
Singh had also planted paddy nurseries, which were to be transplanted in the next few days. “But there seems to be no way to rescue the nurseries now. They are all submerged,” he said. He has already spent around Rs 1.5 lakh on paddy sowing and was not confident of sowing the crop all over again.
Meanwhile, cotton crops in Punjab’s Malwa belt, especially in districts like Ferozepur and Bathinda, have also been submerged in water and farmers also fear a pest attack.
The crop sowing accreage in the Kharif season has been less than last year, showed government data. Sowing of all kharif crops, including paddy, decreased in the first week of July.
By July 2023, 35.34 million hectares (mha) had been sown, showed data from the National Food Security Mission website of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This is 3.36 mha (8.68 per cent) less than last year and 9.48 mha or 22 per cent less compared to 2021.
Rice is the main crop of the Kharif season. Statistics showed that paddy sowing may be significantly impacted this year. Paddy is sown between June 15 and July 15 in most rice-producing states of the country. This period will elapse in seven days.
According to the figures, 23.89 per cent of the area was not sown by July 7, compared to the same period last year. Paddy has been sown in 5.41 mha until the first week of July this year. Last year, paddy had already been sown in 7.11 mha by the first week of July. Meaning, paddy has not been sown in 1.7 mha this time.
The crop damage due to heavy rainfall in the last two days will be another blow to the sowing activities, thus impacting the food production in the country.
Meanwhile, since July 4, the IMD has been issuing advisories to postpone sowing in different states.
From July 4-8, it has advised the farmers not to go for nursery sowing of Kharif rice in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sali rice in Meghalaya and sowing of direct seeded rice in coastal Karnataka, postponing transplanting of rice in Kerala, coastal Karnataka, south Konkan and Goa.
Read more: Punjab and Haryana are unable to get out of paddy-wheat cycle; why is that?
On July 9, the IMD added Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in the list of states it advised to postpone transplanting of rice and sowing of maize, Kharif pulses, vegetables and soybean in these states, given the heavy rainfall situation in the last two days in these states.
“The transplanting exercise was underway when heavy rains struck, but now we will have to postpone. But if transplanting is not done on time, it will cause a huge loss to the yield of the crop. Farmers usually sows nurseries only for the required area and not anything extra,” said Jaskaran Singh, from Kothe Amberhar village in Punjab’s Ferozepur district.
In my village, almost 40 hectares of area under paddy nurseries have been damaged, Jaskaran added.