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Heavy rain boosts paddy hope in Jharkhand

Two consecutive years of drought in the state had hit kharif crops — paddy,millet and oilseeds

Written by Manoj Prasad |
September 23, 2011 3:15:33 am

Sukra Oraon tenderly attends to the lush green paddy crop that covers his three-and-a-half acre plot along the highway near Tupudana,15 km from Jharkhand capital Ranchi.

Two months from now,Oraon hopes to earn at least Rs 30,000 from the yield. “That’s huge money for us,” says Oraon who does not need to migrate outside the state in search of work this year.

While in the last two years,paddy crops had shriveled due to drought,heavy rainfall this time has boosted paddy sowing — up to 98 per cent.

The state agriculture department,too,is optimistic about the prospect of paddy. “We are going to have a record production of paddy this time,” said Sandip Kumar,agronomist of the department,who recently toured the farms in Maoist-infested Gumla,Lohardaga,West Singhbhum and Dhanbad to assess the impact of the monsoon.

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Last two years,a brief monsoon season had hit the production of kharif crops — paddy,millets and oil seeds — causing untold miseries to farmers and livestock. Water bodies like ponds and rivers,and wells had almost dried up with the Centre and the state spending more than Rs 75 crore to provide relief to the affected farmers.

“With the rain God showering mercy on us,we do not have to migrate to distant areas in search of livelihood,” said Sudhir Mahato,a farmer near Bharno block in Gumla.

He added that the water bodies are brimming,bringing cheers all around.

Jharkhand depends heavily on the monsoon for farming. Only 12 per cent of the cultivable land relies on an irrigation system as against the national average of 40 percent.

There’s,however,one thing that can mar the buoyant mood of the farmers — the prevailing shortage of fertilisers,especially urea,needed to increase the yield of the crops.

With urea prices skyrocketing — from Rs 350 a bag of 50 kg in January this year to Rs 750 per bag now — farmers are up in arms. Dharnas and processions in Ranchi were held on September 6; a group of farmers looted two trucks laden with urea in Garhwa on September 16.

State Secretary (Agriculture) A K Singh told The Indian Express that the shortage of urea was primarily due to a spurt in demand.

“A normal monsoon after two consecutive years of drought has pushed up the demand for fertilisers. Besides,the Centre has supplied less than what we had demanded,” said Singh.

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