Bhubaneswar (LocalWire) July 13: As the sky turns overcast, 58-year-old Nakul Subudhi, a small and marginal farmer in the Debakua village under Mohana block in Odisha’s Gajapati district, looks skyward with an air of optimism. His hope, however, turns into despair as it drizzles instead of the usual monsoon downpour.
Subudhi, who owns an acre of rain-fed cultivable land, is yet to begin kharif sowing with monsoon playing hide and seek.
Like him, many of the farmers from the region bereft of canal irrigation have not been able to take up kharif paddy cultivation because of the late monsoon.
The agricultural fields in the un-irrigated pockets are largely lying vacant and agriculture operation has come to a grinding halt almost everywhere – from Gajapati to Keonjhar – with the district recording 58% deficit rainfall since the outbreak of monsoon on June 20.
Gajapati District Collector Anupam Saha is, however, hopeful as he says that there is still ample time for kharif cultivation. “We are hopeful that there will be steady rain in the coming days,” he said.
“We pray for rain god to be kind to us. The majority of kharif cultivators are yet to begin the sowing operation.
Our village is located at the tail-end of canal irrigation network. Canal water eludes our agricultural fields.
We are entirely dependent on monsoon rain for agriculture operation,” said Arjun Mallick, a farmer from the Dhola village under the Derabish block in Kendrapara district, which has recorded 21% deficit monsoon rainfall till date.
Mahendra Naik, a peasant from the Patana village in Keonjhar district, echoes him: “Monsoon is playing a cruel joke upon us.
We raise crops only in the monsoon. Our village does not have an irrigation system. The canal that had been dug out during the British Raj is now defunct.”
“Our area has not received the required rainfall for the agrarian work.
It rained in torrents for a few hours, a couple of days back. Then there was a prolonged dry spell. Thus, it’s hardly conducive for kharif.
Drought stares at us imminently as there is no sign of rain,” Naik, who owns a two acre patch of un-irrigated land, bemoaned.
However, there has been steady progress in cultivation on the patches covered under the irrigation network.
“Odisha has recorded 17% deficit monsoon rainfall as compared to the 2018. Gajapati district is worst hit, with a 58% deficit followed by Balasore district (33%).
Invariably all the 30 districts have witnessed deficient monsoon rain this year,” said Laxmikant Mohapatra, an officer from the Odisha wing of India Meteorological Department.
Mohapatra, however, added that the scenario is likely to improve next week as there is a forecast of heavy and prolonged rain on July 18.
Eminent meteorologist and Director of the Centre for Environment and Climate Dr Sarat Chandra Sahu, however, cautioned that any further deficit or delay in rainfall may lead to drought-like situation in the state.
“Monsoon has been irregular this year. There is a lack of uniformity in the distribution pattern of rain.
Irregularity in rainfall pattern may impact the farming sector that provides a livelihood for around more than 70% people in the state.
The kharif sowing has already got delayed. The next fortnight is quite vital for kharif. If the state does not record steady rainfall in the coming days, drought-like situation may prevail in large parts of Odisha,”