Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 7:
While the spectre of drought looms large over several parts of India following predictions of deficient rainfall this year, Odisha is staring at another problem in the form of seed shortage forcing the government, fearful of a fall in paddy output, to knock on every possible door.
The Agriculture department is struggling hard to meet its target for the procurement of 5.1 lakh quintals of paddy seeds to be sold to the farmers in the current Kharif season. There is a shortage of 56,000 quintasl of seeds in the state.
While the total requirement of paddy seeds for the farmers in the state is 26.5 lakh quintals, the government claims that the requirement of paddy seeds is 6.7 lakh quintals as the farmers manage to get it from other sources and store the seeds during the previous harvesting period.
Cyclone Phailin and the subsequent flood that occurred in October 2013 had wreaked havoc in many parts of the state and had washed away around one lakh quintals of paddy, a setback from which the agriculture sector in the state is yet to recover fully.
Even the restrictions imposed on sale of paddy seeds outside the state do not appear to have had the desired effect. A worried government is now looking for help from other states to tide over the shortage of paddy seed for the kharif season.
“We have approached the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) and some states, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar to provide seeds for the state. We have received around 20,000 quintals of seeds from different sources, including 16,600 from NSC,” said Agriculture secretary Rajesh Verma.
The Maharashtra government has supplied 3000 quintals of seeds while NSC has supplied 16,600 quintals against the assured 26,000 quintals. It could not provide the remaining quantity of seeds to the state probably due to the fear of El Nino as different states declined to supply the surplus seeds to the national agency.
The plan of the government to procure seeds through the tender process also came to naught, further exacerbating the state government’s headache.
The government had floated tenders inviting national players for the procurement of 40,000 quintals of paddy seeds. Surprisingly, no bidder participated in the tender process. “The tender process did not work. However, we are tapping other sources to meet the target,” said Verma.
The government is also worried over the shortage of fine varieties of paddy seeds forcing it to go for medium and short duration crops this kharif season.
Deficient rains have also impacted water storage level across the state besides sowing operations. Data show that shortfall in acreage has been reported in all major crops like rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds and cotton.
It may be noted here that barring three districts -Nabarangpur, Baleswar and Koraput – all other districts have received 56 percent less rainfall than normal in June. The normal yearly rainfall of the state is 1451.2 mm. The actual rainfall received, vary from district to district. About 84% of rainfall is received during the period from June to September.
If rain continues to play hide and seek in the next 10-12 days, the state is all set to witness a drought like situation, feels experts.
The government had supplied 5.29 lakh quintals of seeds against the target of 6.91 lakh quintals in the Kharif season last year.
The State has cultivated area of 61.80 lakh hectares out of which 29.14 lakh hectares is high land, 17.55 lakh hectares medium land and 15.11 lakh hectares low land. The paddy area during Kharif is about 41.18 lakhs and during Rabi 3.29 lakh ha.