Delayed rains raise farmers' worries
NAGPUR: Furrows on farmers' brows are getting deeper as they desperately wait for rains. Deceived by a few showers, at least 20% farmers in Vidarbha had carried out sowing of cotton and soyabean, the two main cash crops in the region. They now face a bleak prospect. "If it does not rain in the next three or four days, they will have to undertake resowing," said a top agriculture officer on Friday.
With the monsoon playing truant, water level in reservoirs of large and medium dams is fast depleting. However, Nagpur divisional commissioner BV Gopal Reddy says the situation is not that alarming. "Water stocks may be marginally less as compared to the corresponding period last year. But we can tide over and there is nothing to worry. The latest weather office reports suggest that regular rains are expected from July 3," said Reddy.
"This looks like repeat of 2009 situation. That year too rains arrived by mid-July. But nowadays farmers are showing patience. A majority of them in eastern Vidarbha has not started sowing operations. Around 25% have done with it are eagerly waiting for regular rains in the next three days so that the seeds are not wasted," said joint director of agriculture of Nagpur division JC Bhutada. Paddy growers with assured water source like wells and ponds, for nurseries where seeds germinate, are not worried as they require regular rains only for transplantation that is some days away.
"Situation could turn grim if it does not rain in good spells in next four-five days," said Amravati division joint director of agriculture Ashok Lokhande. "Sowing has already been done is about 18% of land mainly in Buldhana, Akola and Amravati. But it has been done mainly by those who have installed sprinklers or drip irrigation system through some protected water source. They have no problems, said Lokhande.
"But many farmers in Yavatmal who have done sowing after mid-June rains could be in for trouble and face the prospects of resowing as hot and dry weather in the last two weeks has undone all their hard labour," said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. "Farmers already grappling with funds crunch because of poor credit flow by crisis-ridden cooperative banks this year will be further distressed by additional expenses if they have to undertake resowing," said Tiwari.
The farm activist slammed the authorities for making inaccurate predictions about timely and plentiful rains which make the farmer complacent and ill-prepared for any exigency. "At least now the government should intervene to see that farmers take up less rain-sensitive food crops like jawar and bajra instead of cotton and soya so as to sustain food needs for the year ahead," said Tiwari.