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Why Farmers in Bengal are Switching to Salt Tolerant Paddy?

Shigraf Zahbi
Shigraf Zahbi
Frequent cyclones have pushed Bengal farmers to switch to salt tolerant paddy.

There have been three back to back cyclones in the Indian state of Bengal: Bulbul in November, 2019, Amphan in May, 2020, and Yaas in May, 2021. This has gradually resulted in farmers switching to salt tolerant varieties of paddy.

After the cyclone water gushed into the fields of the farmers, the soil turned saline. This could have resulted in loss of livelihood and the area could have become unfit for paddy cultivation. However, farmers have found a new way to overcome the damage caused by natural disasters by switching to salt resistant paddy. These were grown with government’s help on higher grounds in special community seedbeds.  

According to a report published in the Hindustan Times, a farmer said that the yields they were getting from the salt resistant varieties were not as much as what they got from the high yielding variety (HYV) of paddy. However, they had no option but to make the switch as the HYV of paddy wouldn't have survived in such conditions.

The report also highlighted the government’s role in switching to these new varieties. During the times of Amphan, 550 MT of salt tolerant varieties of paddy seeds were distributed to around 91,000 farmers. After the Yaas cyclone, 1200 MT of seeds were distributed among farmers in three districts. The farmers were also given kits which included seed treating chemicals.

The government also ran awareness programmes through mediums like phone, television, and radio.

Although cyclones are not uncommon in the Bay of Bengal region, there has been an increase in their frequency and intensity due to global warming. These cyclones have caused a huge damage to farmers in the state and the government’s move is a welcome step in the direction of creating support for the affected farmers.

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