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Northeast apprehends loss of production due to variation of rainfall

With the southward migration of the monsoon trough, about 90 percent of districts in the northeast have been experiencing deficient rainfall as of now.

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Agartala: Agriculture experts apprehended the loss of production this year due to the shifting trend of rainfall in pre-monsoon and during the initial phase of monsoon while advising farmers to change their cropping pattern according to the local climate.

According to a report, abnormal rainfall between March and July has impacted crop production in the region but the farmers largely do not face much loss because of mixed agricultural practices. The heavy pre-monsoon shower damaged the summer vegetable in the plains and low-lying areas of Assam and Tripura, helping the cultivation in the hills and slopes across the northeast.

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The heavy shower in pre-monsoon also helped the preparation of paddy fields for Aman and the seed bed. However, the efforts ran in vain in Assam due to prolonged and devastating floods. The production of economically important crops like okra (bhindi), bottle gourd, cucumber, chili and
tomato in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura were damaged badly.

The abnormally high rainfall (64% above normal) during the month of June in Arunachal appeared detrimental to paddy cultivation as it submerged the rice fields and nurseries. However, states of the Northeast faced a critical period of agriculture activities.

The IMD statistics indicated, that the northeast receives about 20-25 percent of the annual rainfall during the pre-monsoon but this year, it was above 62 percent, which was recorded highest in the last 10 years.

With the southward migration of the monsoon trough, about 90 percent of districts in the northeast have been experiencing deficient rainfall as of now.

According to Dr. Rajib Lochan Deka, Department of Agricultural Meteorology at Assam Agricultural University at Jorhat, due to the submergence of agricultural lands, summer crops were completely damaged in large parts of Assam, which affected the farm-based economy of the region.

Heavy rainfall in May and June had affected the harvesting of Boro rice too. The sowing of Kharif rice has been delayed for over a month this year due to flooding in Assam. Obviously, it will affect yielding. Most of the rice nurseries were damaged due to flood, causing an inevitable shortage of rice seedlings for normal transplanting in Tripura and Assam.

“Assam agriculture department has taken the initiative of raising community nurseries where submergence tolerant rice varieties like Ranjit sub-1, Bahadur sub-1, Swarna sub-1, Jalashri, Jalkuwari were sown. Anticipating a flood or drought-like situation in August, we have recommended short-duration rice varieties like Luit and Disang are recommended which can be transplanted till the first week of September without any risk in falling of yield,” Dr. Deka attributed.

In the case of Arunachal Pradesh the rainfall during pre-monsoon was 68 percent below normal which had a mixed impact on the farming system, said Kaushik Bhagawati, a Technical Officer of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Basar. Although low rainfall delayed the sowing of summer vegetables, it favored the clearing of forest and land preparation for Jhum cultivation Arunachal.

The exceptionally high rainfall (127 percent above normal) in the month of April in Arunachal had a very adverse impact on agriculture, especially on newly sown summer crops.

Also, in Jhum cultivation, there were reports of damages to standing paddy crops due to surface runoff. The high rainfall during the maturity stage of maize in the month of May & June resulted in poor production and damage to mature cobs in the plant.

According to Dhiman Daschoudhuri, Technical Officer of Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (GKMS) of ICAR Tripura, pre-monsoon rainfall in the state was about 11 percent above normal affected the yielding of vegetables but favored the raising of paddy seedlings.

“Problem arises in transplanting the seedlings into the field, as Tripura recorded about 25 percent deficit monsoon rain as of now. The fields which were prepared for rice cultivation now turned dry. However, the scanty rain in monsoon helps to yield vegetables and good harvesting,” Daschoudhuri commented.

He pointed out that earlier that farmers of the Northeast depended on their traditional knowledge to understand the weather patterns. The GKMS, an initiative of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has gradually made this knowledge modern and scientific. Now, at least 10 Lakh farmers of the region are directly linked with GKMS and getting real-time weather alerts on both long and short-term basis that minimize the losses of the farm produce.

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