Resurgence of monsoon raises farmers’ hopes

- Abdesh Kumar Jha, RABINDRA UPRETI, Morang / Mahotari

Aug 21, 2015-

A resurgence of the monsoon after a long drought has brought smiles to the faces of farmers in most parts of the eastern Tarai. The extended dry spell during the key paddy transplantation period has affected most paddy fields in the region. Weathermen have forecast more rain for the next two days. They have also issued a heavy rain warning for some districts in the Eastern and Central regions.

The heavy rainfall on Wednesday that continued until Thursday evening has cheered farmers who have been largely worried about losing their harvests this year. The leaves of the young paddy plants had started to turn yellow due to the long period without water.

Although the paddy transplantation season has passed, agro experts said that farmers still had some windows to grow paddy. However, the output will not be as good as from the crops planted in mid-August.  

Agro technician Asesh Pandey said that the late monsoon could affect the output of improved varieties of paddy, but it would not affect indigenous varieties like Basmati, Harinker, Mansuli, Gola, Kamod and others. “Farmers could cut their losses if they sow these indigenous paddy varieties since they require less water and fertilizer.”

According to Ravi Kumar Jha, chief meteorologist at the meteorological regional office in Dharan, Biratnagar recorded a rainfall of 53 mm in the last 24 hours. Okhaldhunga recorded the highest rainfall of 80 mm. In Dharan, Dhankuta and Taplejung, rainfall has been recorded at 43.3 mm, 5.4 mm and 17 mm respectively. The most hard hit districts like Saptari, Mahottari and Sarlahi also saw heavy rain for two consecutive days.

“After a long drought, rain on Wednesday and Thursday in the eastern and central Tarai districts have come as a boon for the paddy crops,” said Rajendra Upreti, chief of the District Agriculture Office in Morang. Paddy transplantation in Morang has been completed on 86 percent of the 80,000 hectares of farmland here. Transplantation in areas where farmers have planted jute is still to be completed. With this rain, it will take at least a week to complete the cultivation.”

Rain has also given new life to the transplanted paddy seedlings that had started turning yellow due to insufficient water. However, heavy rains have affected vegetables in the region. “Most of the areas under vegetable cultivation have been submerged,” said Upreti.

In Mahottari, the recent rains have revived the hopes of farmers. Although it is too late for paddy transplantation, farmers said they could still transplant paddy in the fields that had been abandoned due to lack of water.  

The District Agriculture Office in Mahottari said that the delayed monsoon rains could help increase the paddy transplantation rate to 80 percent of the 90,241 hectares of paddy fields here.  

Due to the drought, transplantation was completed on only 20 percent of the fields in Mahottari, said Sukeshwor Jha, chief of the District Agriculture Office. “However, two days of rain has been a boon to farmers.”

Earlier, the Ministry of Agricultural Development had said that the country could lose an estimated Rs25 billion worth of paddy output this year if the eight districts in the eastern and central Tarai had continued to suffer from poor rainfall for two more weeks.

The eight districts, namely Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa, have been hit hard by late and insufficient rains this year. They recorded an average paddy transplantation rate of just 40 percent as of the first week of August. They have a combined 326,501 hectares of paddy fields.

Water shortages are a persistent problem in these districts. Droughts are expected to strike them, triggering fears of a famine. Agro experts said that drought and soaring temperatures had left farmlands in the districts with extensive cracks, and that even transplanted paddy seedlings had turned yellow.

Published: 22-08-2015 08:29

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