Water wise

By Dolonchapa Bhattacharyya
Published: Wednesday 15 October 2008

Haryana farmers give up water-guzzling paddy

haryana has managed to dissuade its farmers from sowing summer paddy saathi this year to prevent water shortage.

"Last year, 50,000 hectares (ha) was under saathi cultivation. This year we have reduced it to 200 ha. The success ratio is highly satisfactory," said R R Jowel, director, agriculture, Haryana.

Saathi requires more water than normal paddy varieties. Also, since it is planted during April-May, the evaporation loss is high. As a result, both the water table and soil nutrients get depleted. Increased irrigation also drains power during summer months, when it is already in scarcity.

This variety of paddy is not known for its taste or nutritious qualities. It is in demand for its resemblance to basmati.

Before the monsoon, state agriculture officials had visited all the districts and persuaded the farmers not to sow saathi. They encouraged the farmers to sow dhaincha paddy instead, which improves soil health.

In a recent meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture in Delhi, the Haryana agriculture secretary urged other states to follow in its footsteps. Earlier, Punjab had taken the same initiative to prevent groundwater depletion.

Three years ago, the deputy commissioner of Karnal had issued an order against sowing saathi. The programme was abandoned for lack of political will.

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