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Bengal floods: Paddy output may drop by more than 30% in state

Apart from standing crops, the entire paddy seed bed, prepared for the winter or Boro season, have been damaged

Namrata Acharya  |  Purba Medinipore 

Paddy field image via Shutterstock

Just about when the second green revolution in the east was getting scripted as a success story, washed away the outcome in a flick. For the year 2013-14, under the Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) scheme, nearly Rs 151 crore was allocated to West Bengal, with the first installment of Rs 75 crore released only in September. The state government had set a target of increasing rice productivity by 500 kg/hectare through new varieties of seeds introduced as part of the second green revolution in the East. Informal estimates suggest are likely to reduce in West by more than 30 per cent. Apart from standing crops, the entire seed bed, prepared for the winter or Boro season, have been damaged. More than 70 per cent of crop in Purba Medinipore, Paschim Medinipore, Purulia , Hooghly and Bankura have been smashed. About one lakh tonne of paddy seeds are feared to be destroyed in the In August, when the state witnessed the first major flood of the year, agriculture production, particularly paddy, was unlikely to drop drastically, in spite of crop damage, due to the use of high yielding variety of seeds. However, a flood just before the harvest season in November have surfaced substantial standing paddy crop. In July-August, floods in nine of the 19 districts in the state, including the high rice-productivity districts of Bardhaman, Hooghly, Birbhum and Nadia, destroyed a part of standing crop. “Initial estimates suggested this year paddy productivity was much more than usual. However, with the recent floods, the whole of paddy seeds as well as standing crop have been severely destroyed,” said Pranab Chatterjee, professor at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya. In 2012-13, the state produced 15.3 million tonnes (MT) of rice, an increase of 5.5 per cent over the previous year. This year, the is likely to be nothing more than 12 million tonnes, against the initial target of 15-16 million tonne, according to Chatterjee. This year paddy was sown in nearly 4.2 million hecatre land in the Kharif season. Apart from paddy, floods in West have damaged farms of betelvine, spices, vegetables and flowers. At Panskura, marigold farms still dot the flooded fields, but left to be rotten in the inundated fields. Flowers worth Rs 8 crore have been damaged by the floods in Purba Medinipore.

The total horticulture damage is vetted worth Rs 35 crore, of which only vegetable damage is to the tune of Rs 22 crore. The fisheries department reckons a damage of about nearly Rs 9 crore in the district. The kharif harvest season also coincides with the season of betel nut harvest in Purba Medinipore. Prices of betal nut have gone up from Rs 120 kg to nearly Rs 200 per kg in one month due to crop loss. At Mahesidal Cooperative Marketing Society in Tamluk, which procures paddy from farmers on behalf of the government, there would not be any procurement this year, as market prices are much higher than the MSP. The market prices of paddy are likely to at Rs 1,500-1600 per quintal of paddy, against the minimum support price of Rs 1,310 per quintal, according to an official at the cooperative. Last year, the cooperative saw a record paddy procurement, worth nearly Rs 12 crore. In 2011-12, the state government had procured 3.04 MT of rice from farmers due to crash in prices due over- Rice in West is spread across three seasons — aus, aman and boro. Kharif rice (aus and aman) alone accounts for about 70 per cent of the state’s total rice production. West Bengal accounts for 14-16 per cent of India’s rice production.

District Rice Production
a) Bankura 5,07,000
b) Paschim Medinipore 17,18,000
c) Purba Medinipore 12,28,000
d) Hooghly 9,04,000
e) Purulia 2,61,000
f) Total 4,618,000
g) Total Rice Production in West Bengal 1,46,34,000
f as a % of g 31.55

Source : Economic Survey. 2011-12, West Bengal

First Published: Sun, November 03 2013. 20:17 IST