Drought-hit Bihar unlikely to achieve record paddy target

Patna, Oct 4 (IANS) Bihar is unlikely to achieve its target of 100 lakh tonnes of paddy this year by using the system of root intensification method of cultivation in view of severe drought in the state, say officials.

Bihar Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh said the drought has come as a big hurdle to achieve the target fixed for paddy production this year.

"Drought is a serious problem and a big challenge... government has initiated several measures to provide relief to farmers to ensure as much paddy production possible," Singh told IANS.

Bihar last month declared that 33 of its 38 districts were drought-hit on account of poor rains this monsoon. The state recorded 25 percent deficit in its annual rainfall.

According to an agriculture department report, Bihar received 668.6 mm rain against the average of 892.2 mm during the June 1 to Sep 11 period, resulting in a lowered water table in Aurangabad, Nawada and Nalanda districts.

An agriculture department official admitted the state was unlikely to fulfil its target of 100 lakh tonnes of paddy this year.

After attaining record paddy production in last kharif season, Bihar is now expected to harvest not more than 45 to 50 lakh tonnes of paddy this year as poor rains in July-August badly hit transplantation of paddy.

"Drought is bound to affect paddy production in Bihar this time as average paddy yield per hectare would not be more than 2 lakh metric tonnes," said S.S. Singh, head of crop research at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research's complex for eastern region here.

According to agriculture department officials, Bihar had produced 87 lakh tonnes of paddy in 2012-13.

In view of the drought this year, the government is now working on crop survival strategy to ensure protection of standing paddy crop.

"Now our top priority is to help the drought-affected farmers that standing paddy doesn't die of moisture stress," said disaster management department official Rajiv K. Singh.

Rice production in Bihar was 36.4 lakh tonnes in 2009-10 which increased to 81.87 lakh tonnes in 2011-12 and 87 lakh tonnes in 2012-13, thanks to SRI method.

Last month, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, during a visit to Delhi, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, and requested them to send a central team to assess the damage caused by drought. He also sought Rs.12,000 crore relief from the central government.


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