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Jharkhand Farmers Worried About Low Sowing Coverage Amid Drought-Like Condition

Jharkhand has received widespread rainfall since August 9. It helped reduce the state's rainfall deficit from 48% on August 9 to 36% on Wednesday, but there was no improvement in sowing coverage. According to an official, sowing coverage in Jharkhand is still poor due to insufficient rainfall in the first two months of the monsoon.

Shivam Dwivedi
Drought like Situation in Jharkhand
Drought like Situation in Jharkhand

Bhupati Bhusan Mahto, a 64-year-old farmer in Jharkhand's Dhanbad district, is concerned about his farming because more than 90% of his paddy field remains uncultivated, owing to the state's drought-like conditions. Mahto, a Dhokra village resident, claimed that an input cost of Rs 4,000 for paddy cultivation was drained as his fields mostly remained dry, resulting in a huge loss.

"My family is solely dependent on agriculture. I purchased fertilizer, seeds, and other inputs to grow paddy on my six acres of land, but due to insufficient rainfall, I was unable to sow seeds. All of our efforts and money have been in vain.”

"The paddy planting season is already over, and I'm struggling to make ends meet." Family expenses and managing fodder for my cattle will be difficult tasks for me this year. "I'm not sure how I'm going to feed my sons and wife," he told. Mahto is not the only one. Gopal Chandra, 46, a farmer in the district's Baliapur block, is also in trouble.

"Because the actual sowing season ended on August 15, there is little chance of getting yield." "I went sowing only to get fodder for my cattle because managing fodder for cattle in a drought situation is going to be difficult," he explained. Chandra asked the government to declare a drought and provide relief as soon as possible.

"We are in big trouble," Kanchan Kumar Mahto, a 28-year-old farmer from Amlachater village in Jamtara district, told. "All our labour for the Kharif season went in vain." We can provide food for ourselves, but we are worried about our cattle. We don't even have fodder. Farmers can only survive now if the government assists them." Mahto is part of an eight-member joint family that had planned to grow paddy on 10 acres of land this Kharif season.

"We began preparations in the early months, spending around Rs 2,000 on seeds, fertilizer, and other supplies." Our farmland remained fallow this year due to a lack of rain in the district during the sowing season. "We raised some paddy on a part of our fields in the last week's rain to get fodder for the animal," he explained.

The situation in the state is "grim in 12 districts," with paddy sowing coverage of less than 10% until August 17.

However, a widespread rain in the second week of August provided some relief to farmers across the state, and Dhanbad's Mahto was able to grow paddy on one acre of his land, though the sowing coverage was not satisfactory, according to him.

Due to two back-to-back low-pressure systems, Jharkhand has received widespread rainfall since August 9. It helped reduce the state's rainfall deficit from 48% on August 9 to 36% on Wednesday, but there was no improvement in sowing coverage. According to an official, sowing coverage in Jharkhand is still poor due to insufficient rainfall in the first two months of the monsoon.

According to a state agriculture department report, the state had only 30.60 percent paddy sowing coverage as of August 17. "The state's overall sowing coverage, which includes paddy, maize, pulse, oilseed, and coarse cereals, was 37.63 percent," the official said.

According to agriculture experts, farmers are in a "deep crisis across Jharkhand, with the situation being worst in 12 districts where paddy coverage is less than 10%, affecting more than 15 lakh farmers."

Dumka (0.68 percent), Dhanbad (1.09 percent), Jamtara (3.66 percent), Garhwa (4.38 percent), Palamu (4.91 percent), Deoghar (9.39 percent), Godda (5.20 percent), Hazaribag (7.03%), Pakur (7.39 percent), Latehar (8.65 percent), Giridih (8.26 percent), and Chatra (8.26 percent) are the worst-affected districts (9.38).

Mahto of Jamtara said he tried to enrol in the government's crop relief scheme, but "the process is not so simple that a farmer could understand."

"Now paddy seeds with a long duration harvest will not work," Birsa Agricultural University Director Research and Dean of Faculty of Agriculture SK Pal told. It may not produce the desired results. Farmers can direct sow short-duration seeds until the end of August. The main concern, however, is that cultivators have already suffered losses and may struggle to purchase new seeds." Even though the government provides a 50% seed subsidy, many farmers are "unable to bear the cost of new seeds."

Instead of paddy, Pal suggested that farmers focus on ragi and kulthi crops, which could compensate for their loss. "They could go for early mustard and wheat sowing in October," he suggested. Officials from the Jharkhand Agriculture Department said the administration is concerned about the drought-like situation and has already launched several programmes.

During his Independence Day speech on August 15, Chief Minister Hemant Soren stated that there had been reports of "below normal rainfall in the Kharif season" and that his government was constantly monitoring the situation. "In light of the current situation," he said, "we have requested a special package from the Centre." Keeping the farmers' plight in mind, the government is running a crop relief scheme, with Rs 100 crore set aside to address the situation, he said.

"Over 4.28 lakh Kisan Credit Card applications have been approved, with Rs 1,583 crore sanctioned, to provide financial assistance to farmers." To train farmers, the Integrated Birsa Gramin Vikas Yojana-cum-Krishak Pathshala has been established. Quality seeds are being provided at a 50% subsidy, according to the CM.

Meanwhile, two scientists from Birsa Agriculture University have left for Delhi to attend a drought-related meeting called by the Centre on Thursday. "The scientists will present the situation in Jharkhand," said state agriculture director Nisha Oraon Singhmar.

(Inputs from PTI)

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