Deep depression in Bay of Bengal to bring heavy unseasonal rain, strikes fear of crop loss into Odisha paddy farmers

Crops not fully reaped in some districts where government procurement is yet to start

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Thursday 16 November 2023
Standing matured paddy crops ready to harvest in Ganjam district. Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty __

Paddy farmers in Odisha are worried following forecasts by weather agencies predicting unseasonal heavy rain in parts of the state on November 17 and 18, 2023 under the influence of a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal. The state’s eastern districts had earlier seen inadequate monsoon rains and attacks by pests in western districts.

The deep depression over the west-central Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm by November 17 morning, said Uma Shankar Das, senior scientist in India Meteorological Department’s Bhubaneswar regional centre.

Under the influence of the system, heavy to moderate rain may occur in some parts of Odisha, according to sources.

Paddy farmers in Odisha have already been suffering from moisture stress due to inadequate rainfall in Ganjam and Gajapati districts, while pest attacks have been reported in western Odisha districts. Unseasonal rains at the time of the harvest will shatter all hopes of a successful crop, said a farmer.

Paddy was sown on about 3.5 hectares in the state this year.

A suicide by a farmer was reported earlier this week due to stress over crop loss and repaying debts. Ramesh Bhoi (50) of Bubel village in Puintala police limits in Balangir district consumed poison in his farmland on November 15, 2023. He was rushed to Bhima Bhoi Medical College and Hospital (BBMCH) in Balangir where he succumbed during treatment, his brother Jaya Bharat said.

Standing paddy in around 26,000 hectares of the district’s total 179,000 hectares has been damaged due to a lack of rainfall since September 26 in Ganjam district. Moisture stress has damaged approximately 5,000 hectares of the 25,000 hectares in Gajapati district.

The paddy crop in most of the areas is mature, while many farmers have already reaped the crops. Rain at this juncture will harm the crops, said Sameer Pradhan, a farmer in Sheragada in Ganjam district.

Niranjan Mohanty of Balipada, near Berhampur city, said he has harvested a portion of his crops sown on five hectares, but has put the rest on hold in fear of rains. Moisture stress had earlier damaged a part of the crops. “There may be more damage if we see rain,” he said.

The government has not started paddy procurement yet in most districts, so the farmers who have already harvested the crops will face a tough time keeping their produce safe, said Simamchal Nahak, secretary for the farmers’ union Rushikulya Rait Mahasabha.

While the farmers are yet to get any compensation for damage to crops due to moisture stress, they would completely lose out on their annual income due to the rains, he said, demanding early compensation for farmers.

Subrat Kumar Sahu, chief district agriculture officer, Ganjam however, said the standing crops are unlikely to be damaged due to the unseasonal rains. “The standing paddy will not be harmed unless the wind speed is high,” he said.

Farmers in coastal districts in the state should speed up the harvest of paddy that is 85 per cent mature and pale yellow in colour, said a joint advisory issued by the director of Agriculture and Food Production, Odisha government, Rohit Lenka and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology Professor Prasanjit Mishra.

Medium-duration paddy is in the harvesting stage, the statement said. Since paddy is in the flowering to milking stage, farmers were advised to drain out water from paddy fields before rains to save the crop from waterlogging.

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