Nagpur: When it rains – it pours. This seemed true for the monsoons in the first week of August, specially in and around Nagpur, Amraoti, Akola etc. But then the rains suddenly stopped. We haven’t had a proper shower for over 10 days now and it has been quite sunny as well. With some cloud cover once in a while, that has not translated into rains.
These conditions have made the new, tender saplings struggle for moisture and dry up in the process.
More Dal planted this year – require more water than cotton
Since this year was declared as International Cereal year and remembering last year’s high prices of dals, farmers have gone in more for Urad and Moong along with Soyabean instead of opting for their traditional cotton which is a hardier crop.
These Urad and Moong seeds were planted in July itself and in some cases they were almost at the flowering stage. Rains are very essential at this stage or the flowers can drop off and bean formation does not occur. Only farmers who have access to irrigation can sustain in such conditions.
Lack of irrigation facilities/ dams making situation worse
We all know the dismal condition of irrigation dams – or the lack of them – in Vidarbha. Even where there are enough water bodies, like in Bhandara district, farmers have had to agitate to get water released in canals so it will reach their farms.
Gosekhurd dam in Peoni taluka is supposed to have not filled up adequately so water was not being released on the left side of the dam where many villages growing paddy lie. Villagers were going daily to the dam site, asking for water and had even begun taking matters into their own hands. Sendri was one of the main villages affected. President of Azad Shetkari Sanghatana Kishor Panchbhai had to intervene to get problem solved.
Pest infestation on Paddy (Rice)
Too much rainfall in June and July followed by a dry spell in August has made paddy crops of Nagpur District vulnerable to pest attack. The cloudy atmosphere prevailing, along with the humidity and heat have brought on a vigorous attack of Heliothisis. (Lashkari Ali).
Not just Nagpur, paddy is grown in Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia too. Situation in all these districts is equally bad. Farmers are having to spend more than budgeted on both getting irrigation and buying pesticides.
Many agricultural officers posts in Vidarbha lying vacant
When farmers suffer from vagaries of nature like this, the only source they can turn to for succor and help are the ‘Krishi Adhikaris’. But such is their fate that many such positions have no personnel and there is no representative of the State Government to come to the aid of distressed farmers.
Altogether more than 74 posts are lying vacant in the districts mentioned.
Like we said at the outset – when it rains, it pours.
Whether it is waterfall or an ‘out pour of problems’. It sure seems like a curse to be born a farmer in Vidarbha!