June monsoon has downhearted rice farmers so far

June 28, 2023

Farmers are concerned as the June monsoon has disappointed them so far. He is struggling with preserving rice seedlings, but is wondering if he should plant them in early July.

Data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) center in Patna show that the state is expected to experience the weakest monsoon rains in decades in June this year.

Scientists at the IMD Center said that as of June 27, rainfall in Bihar was nearly 78% less than usual. Two days before the end of the month, the state has so far recorded 28.6 millimeters (mm) of rain, compared to the normal 122.8 millimeters (mm) of rainfall, a clear fall short.

Some of Bihar's agriculture ministry officials said 37 of the 38 districts are suffering from lack of rainfall, except for Kishanganj, which has so far seen near-normal rainfall.

Officials at the IMD Center in Patna told Newsclick that there is no chance of rain or heavy rain in the next few days. They said the monsoon was weak and lacked favorable conditions, adding that "rains are expected in the first week of July due to a strong monsoon system."

In the past three years, Bihar received normal monsoon rains.

Abdus Sattar, assistant professor, agrometeorology, at the Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, in Samastipur, said the best time to start paddy transplantation is June-end but poor monsoon rains have badly affected cultivation.

Sattar said several farmers had approached the university in recent days and expressed their fear that poor monsoon could result in a drought-like situation.

Officials of agriculture department said thousands of farmers have managed to prepare a nursery of paddy seedlings, locally known as Dhan Bichra, with the help of groundwater, by using diesel and electric pumps, But, these are drying up due to the lack of adequate water.

"Due to heavy deficiency in the rains, farmlands have developed cracks and paddy seedlings are either drying up or turning yellow. Farmers have been working hard and trying to save paddy seedlings with a hope that rains will start in a couple of days. The lack of rains is a big issue now", the officials said.

Local Hindi dailies report that farmers have lost hope of a normal monsoon this June across the state, unlike in the past three years when Bihar received normal and surplus rainfall in June and paddy output increased.

Sanyasi Red, a big farmer at Masaurih block in Patna, told NewsClick, that farmers, mainly small and marginal, have no option but to depend on the monsoon for water-intensive paddy cultivation. “Normal rains during monsoon are a boon for paddy sowing and transplantation" he added.

Normally, the monsoon hits the state between June 13 and 14. This year, it arrived in the northeastern parts of the state on June 12, a day ahead of the expected date. But the monsoon system got obstructed and could not advance on time. IMD officials said cyclone Biparjoy and intense westerly winds obstructed the monsoon from moving into other parts of the state.

Ideally, paddy plantation should be completed by July 15 to get a good output, say scientists. Any further delay would affect productivity as well as quality.



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