Drought situation: Odisha shifts focus to non-paddy crops

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 13:

After drawing flak from all quarters for failing to make forward planning to tackle situation arising out of deficient rainfall despite forecast by Met department that the country is likely to receive deficient rainfall under the influence of El Nino, the Odisha government this time has prepared an action plan focusing on the Rabi season and irrigation facilities.

Gokul Chandra Pati

A high level meeting chaired by chief secretary G C Pati at the state secretariat here today directed departments of Water Resources, Energy and Agriculture to have proper coordination among them. According to the action plan chalked out at the meeting, it has been decided to take measures in a phased manner. While the first phase of the action plan will be implemented from December 15 to March 15, the second phase will be implemented from March 15 to June end.

The departments of Water Resources and Energy have been directed to release water for irrigation considering the water levels of different reservoirs in the state. That apart, the Agriculture department has been directed to lay emphasis on non-paddy crops.

“Special emphasis will be laid on cultivation of non-paddy crops instead of paddy crop since water levels in all reservoirs are low and residual moisture in soil is low. Therefore if we go for paddy very less area will be covered. If we go for non-paddy crops, we can cultivate three times the area that we can cultivate if we go for paddy,” said Pati while briefing reporters after the meeting.

Accordingly, farmers will be requested to grow non-paddy crops and inputs will be provided to them. Paddy will be cultivated in lands which are low lying and where nothing other than paddy can be grown, he said.

The chief secretary said: “Also farmers will be persuaded to adopt System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method since it will require 40% less water than traditional paddy cultivation. Since less water is available, efforts will be made to obtain optimum crop yield using that for Rabi and summer crops. Plans for this purpose will be drawn up and dispatched to all district collectors.”

“For all ayacuts of major and medium irrigation projects, a coordination committee will be formed with the deputy director Agriculture, executive engineer of the Water Resources department, local officer of the Odisha Hydro Power Corporation, local head of the Pani Panchayat and other experts will meet every week to review situation and decide any deviations to be undertaken,” said Pati briefing on another major decision taken at the meeting.

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