West Bengal has witnessed a peculiar climate change impact this year where the granary belts of the state have witnessed a non-conventional rainfall pattern.
First during June and July this year, considered the peak seasons for sowing of Aus and Aman paddy, the granary belts, especially in south Bengal, witnessed a massive rainfall deficit. Then in late September and October it received exceptionally high autumnal rain.
These two vagaries of nature have impacted the paddy production in the state in a major way leaving the farmers in distress.
As per records of the weather office in Kolkata, in June this year, the rainfall deficit was 48 per cent in Gangetic West Bengal. In July this year the rainfall deficit in the region came down marginally but hovered around 46 per cent.
As per records this was the worst ever rainfall deficit in Gangetic West Bengal since 2010. However, according to the records, even in 2010 the rainfall deficit in the region was within 40 per cent.
How has this massive rainfall deficit affected the cultivation of Aus and Aman paddy in the granary belts of the state? According to agricultural experts this rainfall deficit first affected the major sowing period of Aus and Aman.
Aus variety of paddy is sown in summer with pre-monsoon rainfall and harvested in autumn. So the rainfall deficit in June affected the sowing as the seed beds did not receive enough rain water required for a healthy yield.
In the case of Aman rice, the sowing season starts from middle of July and continues till the middle and at times end of August. So, the rainfall deficit in July which hovered around 46 per cent also affected a major part of the Aman sowing period.
Some statistics of the agriculture department show how the whims of nature affected paddy production in the state. Till the middle of July, sowing of paddy seeds had been possible in only 2.08 lakh hectares of farmland out of the target of 52 lakh hectares.
Out of the 2.08 lakh hectares of land, sowing of Aus paddy was possible on 1.1 lakh hectares, putting a question mark on the production of this particular variety of paddy during the current farming season. In the same period, Aman paddy could be sown in 97,000 hectares.
The worst affected was East Burdwan district in South Bengal, which is considered West Bengal’s granary. Sowing for Aman paddy had been possible only on 3,280 hectares in this district, while the figure for Aus paddy was just 1,697 hectares till mid-July.
However, in the case of Aman paddy the rainfall deficit was compensated to an extent by the rainfall in August. When the adequate August rainfall was raising the hopes of the farming community, came the excess autumnal rainfall in September and October. The excess was measured at around 10 per cent.
Agricultural experts and functionaries of the All India Kisan Sabha like Hannan Mollah and Samar Ghosh feel that the double-blow — first in the form of rainfall deficit in June and July and then excess autumnal rainfall in September and October — made the farmers lose a major part of their yield.
According to them, when the rainfall was needed most during June and July for effective sowing and replanting, the deficit acted as a dampener. Then in September and October, when the crops were ready to bear seeds, the damage was done by the excess autumnal rain.
According to economics professor PK Mukhopadhyay, the impact of these vagaries of nature could be felt in two ways. “The first was an inevitable increase in the price of rice in the open market, which has already hardened by five percentage points. The second impact was on the livelihood of the sharecroppers, with many of them helpless in front of such whims of nature."
Read all the Latest India News here(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)