New Delhi: Farmers from some parts of Punjab have raised concerns about damage to their paddy crop, especially in the basmati belt where varieties that are harvested earlier are sown, due to incessant rain over the past few days. This follows reports of crop loss in neighbouring Haryana, which too saw heavy rainfall in the last week.
Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, told ThePrint that farmers are expecting 40 per cent loss in the early varieties of good-quality basmati rice.
September is a crucial month for advanced varieties of basmati that have to be harvested on time and stored in places where the crop can be dried, but Punjab has been hit by slow yet steady rains in the past two-three days, leaving cultivators jittery.
The mandis (markets) where the crop is brought for trade are flooded and remain unfavourable for storage.
“Such rains in this month have occurred after almost 10 years and we are hearing that all mandis are flooded. It is likely that the yield would be lesser than usual and we have to be ready for losses if rains continue like this,” said Singh, adding that districts like Patiala, Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Mansa, Muktsar and Tarn Taran have recorded most rain-induced damage to paddy crop.
The farmer union leader further claimed that the quality of the yield will also deteriorate. “There will be discolouration in the crop, the moisture content will keep increasing and that will affect prices. Since storage is a problem, there will be plenty of wastage and farmers will have to burn the unsold produce.”
‘Want to see how govt handles this crisis’
According to farm experts, crop damage of this nature due to excessive rain has taken place after almost a decade.
Dr Ajmer Singh Brar, principal agronomist (water management) at the Punjab Agriculture University, said it would be better to wait and watch how the weather changes in the coming days in order to assess the damage.
“No one can find a permanent solution to excessive rainfall. It is a natural phenomenon. Policies and measures are reactionary in nature. The rainfall was slow but steady and that is not good news for the paddy fields, as this is the harvesting period for advanced varieties of rice that fetch the maximum profits for farmers,” Dr Brar explained to ThePrint.
“This is also happening after a long time and hence has the farmers worried. Grain development and moisture control would be two important aspects to take control over,” he added.
Farmer organisations have already started to huddle over the compensations they might have to seek from the government if they suffer huge crop losses.
“We are speaking to the right stakeholders on this and, whenever necessary, we may have to demand compensation for losses from the government. But we want to wait and see how the government handles the situation,” said Jagmohan Singh of BKU (Dakaunda).
Last week, farmers in Haryana had expressed concerns over their basmati yields. Excessive rains created a storage problem and they have now demanded that their produce be allowed to be sold directly to rice mill owners.
This report has been updated to include the names of districts where most rain-induced damage to paddy has been recorded.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)