Lowest amount of rainfall in the last decade; climate change to blame, says Met
Paddy cultivation in Jharkhand this Kharif season has taken a huge hit, with most farmers expecting a meagre yield. Monsoon 2022 saw a massive deficit in rainfall — the lowest in the last 10 years.
“I doubt I can harvest even a kilogramme of yield this year,” Mahendra Prasad told Down To Earth. The farmer in Hazaribagh district’s Katkam block had produced ten quintals of paddy on one acre of land last year.
He had sown paddy last year by July 27, thanks to the good monsoon. “This time, there has been no rain. It has been 45 days since I sowed the seeds, so there’s no point waiting now,” the farmer said, adding that transplantation needs to be done around 12 days after sowing.
There are 600 households in his village called Banadag. Around half of them have transplanted paddy this year, but only on around 20 per cent of the land. Prasad has two acres of land and cultivates vegetables on one acre. Farming is the only source of income from his family’s livelihood.
The right time for sowing to transplantation of paddy is from June 1 to July 31, according to agricultural scientists. But it also requires good monsoon rain. Hazaribagh district received 57 per cent less rainfall than usual in the period this year.
Jharkhand has received just 49 per cent of the usual rainfall. If there had been enough rainfall by even August 15, around 50 per cent of paddy crops could have been transplanted, according to experts. However, Hazaribagh saw a rainfall deficit of 42 per cent and Jharkhand saw an overall deficit of 35 per cent through August 15.
This deficit has had a disastrous effect on the Kharif crop this year, showed statistics from the agriculture department. Kharif crops of paddy, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals in the state were to be planted on 282,746 million hectares in 2022.
However, only 24.64 per cent of the total area was sown till July 31. The figure reached just 37.19 per cent through August 15. In comparison, 56.19 per cent of crops were sown by July 21 in 2021 and 3.07 per cent by August 15.
Paddy was to be sown on 1.8 million hectares of land this year. A little over 15 per cent of this land was transplanted by July 31 and the figure reached just around 30 per cent by August 15. Last year, paddy transplantation had reached 57 per cent by July 31 and was over 91 per cent by August 15.
This is the lowest figures for Kharif sowing in Jharkhand in the last five years. The figures for sowing from June 1 through July 31 and June 1 to August 15 are: 41 and 69.75 per cent in 2018, 37.30 and 55.35 per cent in 2019 and 70.99 per cent in 2020, respectively.
The agriculture department is holding several meetings to identify and review drought-prone areas. “At present, 180 blocks of 24 districts of the state are in a drought-like situation,” said Nisha Oraon, director of the department. The situation can be classified as moderate in four districts, severe in seven districts and extreme drought in 13 districts.
Santhal Parganas have been the most affected. Sahibganj, Pakur, Godda and Jamtara have received 67-71 per cent less rainfall than normal. Although the rains improved after July, the paddy crop was sown around two months ago. The gap in transplantation will affect the yield.
The drought situation will be reviewed again at the panchayat level in these blocks. The number of drought-prone areas may change accordingly.
State capital Ranchi received 2,150 millimetres of rainfall last year, compared to the average of 1,400 mm. This year, the deficit was 42 per cent through July 31 and 22 per cent by August 15.
The low rainfall has farmers extremely worried. Bisheshwar Minj, a farmer in Bede block, located 45 km from Ranchi, is one of them. Minj had sown paddy in his entire field by July 25 last year.
“There was some rain on August 15 so I managed to transplant some paddy. But it was to be done around 22 days after sowing, not 50 days. I doubt there will be much yield this time and I don’t expect even half the harvest as last year,” the farmer told DTE.
“I had more than 350 sacks of paddy last year,” said 40-year-old Bisheshwar. A sack has around 50 kg of rice. His family has four brothers and 15 members, and farming is their main occupation. There are over 100 households in his village, but the farms are all in the same condition.
Paddy was a bumper crop for Jharkhand farmers last year, thanks to above-average rain. The crop was planted in 1.76 million hectares, producing 5 million tonnes of paddy. In 2020, 4.9 million tonnes of paddy were cultivated.
Climate change affected the monsoon this year, according to the regional meteorological department. The weather has changed a lot in the last thirty years.
“Jharkhand has received the lowest rainfall in July in the last ten years this time. The weather has changed drastically since 1990,” said Abhishek Anand, director of the Ranchi-based India Meteorological Department.
In 1990, the state received 1,154.7 mm of normal rainfall annually, while from 2020, it is 1032.9 mm of normal rainfall. “There is a continuous decrease in annual rainfall due to climate change and the average rainfall criteria has to be adjusted constantly,” he said.
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