Posts filed under ‘Farming and food security’

Spectre of drought haunts Balangir district: The Pioneer

Following article is from The Pioneer:

The spectre of drought has haunted the Balangir district this year, as the monsoon rain has turned truant, with the district hardly recording any significant rainfall both in the month of June and till mid-July.

The Kharif paddy cultivation of the district is totally dependent on the monsoon rainfall but it has been severely hit due to scant rainfall till date. There was shortage of paddy seeds and fertiliser this year but farmers had taken up the paddy cultivation with high hope of good rainfall. However, contrary to their expectations, the inadequate rainfall has withheld the agriculture operations.

According to official sources, against the normal average rainfall of 202.8 mm in June, the district received a rainfall of 105.5 mm, a 48 per cent deficit rainfall. Rather than any improvement, the situation continues to be depressing and till July 12 last, the district has received a rainfall of 64.5 mm against the normal rainfall average of 360 mm.

Against the target of paddy cultivation in 1,87,000 hectares of land, the cultivation has been taken up in 75,404 hectares only, barely on 40 per cent of land, said official sources. The irregularity of rain has further brought agriculture operations, now at various stages, to a grinding halt.

“We have noticed moisture stress condition in the soil and unless there is rain within five to seven days, the moisture stress condition would spread to the plant resulting in yellowing and browning and eventual death/wilting of the plant,” said an agriculture official. However, there are reports of paddy plant getting brownish due to shortage of water. We desperately need rain within a week to carry forward the agriculture operations, he maintained. Ironically, most of the Mudas and Katas and other sources of water are in dry condition. Hence, the farmers have no option left except rain.

Even if now rain occurs, the whole agriculture operations would be over by the end of August and it would affect the yield. Barely a few days are left for the Hindu calendar month Shravan to end but still the roads and fields are dry. By July 15, agriculture operations should be going on full swing but this year the situation is different, rued a farmer.

July 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

Balangir Haat to come up in Bhubaneswar

Following report is from The Pioneer:

The first ever visit of State Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy to Balangir began with interaction with farmers and a promise to open a Balangir Haat (market) at Bhubaneswar to prevent the distress sale of vegetables, tomato, and mango within a month, besides directing the official to visit the field and attending the grievance of farmers.

Accompanied by Principal Secretary RL Jamuda, Director Agriculture RS Gopalan and Director of Horticulture and Watershed, Maharathi listened to the farmers’ complaints. The majority of complains of farmers were related to distress sale of paddy, tomato, vegetables, hike in subsidy for digging well, shortage of paddy seed and revival of cold storage.

“No new paddy seed is arriving here. Farmers have to wait for hours to get a bag of paddy in Puintala block. With a bag of paddy what will he do?,” asked ex- MLA Muralidhar Guru to the delegation.

Besides the official sale centre, the sale centre opened under the Chief Minister’s package is yet to function. Those who have opened sale centres are yet to get their commission of last year, alleged a few farmers.

Reacting to complaints of distress sale of tomato, onion and other vegetables, Maharathi announced that a Balangir Haat would be opened at Unit –1 in Bhubneshwar within a month where farmers would sell their produce directly and get benefit. He also assured that adequate amount of seed would be sent to the district by June 15.

Reacting a to a complaint that farmers in Puintal block have not received their compensation amount, Maharathy directed the District Collector to disburse it within three days so that farmer could procure seeds and other items.

A new dress code is also in the offing for the village agriculture workers and it would be implemented within a year, informed Maharathi and directed the VAWs and other officials to treat the farmers with dignity and listen to their grievances with patience. A direct communication line would be opened between the farmers and the Ministry, he informed further.

In 1996 during the severe drought, the district administration decided to construct a tank by the side of each tube well so that a person taking water from tube well would pour some water in it and the cattle and other animals would drink water from there. However, the scheme failed with structures either damaged or non-existent, Minister was told.

The farmers said that the Government has decided to provide 90 per cent subsidy if four farmers in a cluster dig deep bore well but a deep bore well is making a tube well dry. So they suggested to the Minister to rethink over it.

To provide solution to the problem of harassment by banks in opening of account, Director Agriculture RS Gopalan directed the District Collector to take necessary steps to open zero balance account in the bank and action against them not cooperating. Gopalan also assured that the defunct seed processing unit in the district would be made functional in a month. A total of 35 farmers were honoured with shawl and citation on the occasion.

June 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Scanty rains trigger drought fears in large part of western Orissa

Following is a report by IANS published in Yahoo:

Bhubaneswar, Sep 2 (IANS) Poor monsoon rains have triggered drought fears in half of Orissa, an official said Thursday. ‘At least 15 of state’s 30 districts have recorded less then normal (averagge) rains,’ a senior official of the state agriculture department told IANS.

Paddy and other kharif crops are likely to be the worst affected in the tribal populated districts of Sundergarh and Mayurbhanj, he said. A good monsoon is crucial for this eastern state which contributes almost one-tenth of India’s rice production.

Last year, 3,264 villages in 15 of the state’s 30 districts faced a drought due to a scanty monsoon and erratic rains.

‘The state had received rains 21 per cent below normal (average) by the end of August, as a result of which the threat of drought is looming in several districts’, he said.

The other districts which received less rains included Jajpur, Angul, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Subarnapur, and Kendrapada, he said

September 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

Drought fear in Subarnapur district

Following is a report from Oriya daily the Samaj:

September 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeks central funding for agriculture and allied sectors

Following is a report by IANS (taken from Sify.com):

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Saturday sought liberal funding from the central government for the development of the state’s agriculture and allied sectors.

In his deliberation during the 55th meeting of the National Development Council – the country’s top policy forum, he sought additional central funding to raise the state’s agricultural productivity and improve skill levels of the rural population.

The chief minister proposed broadening the scope of the centre’s Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) to include lift irrigation projects in areas where flow irrigation was not possible.

Patnaik also sought substantial augmentation of central funding under AIBP and for addressing water logging and drainage congestion problems and command area development.

AIBP was launched by the central government during 1996-1997 to give loan assistance to states to help them complete some of the incomplete major or medium irrigation projects and to create additional irrigation potential in the country.

‘The state economy has grown at an average annual rate of 9.51 percent during the 10th plan and at 8.73 percent per annum in the first three years of the 11th Plan, at a faster rate than the national average, despite challenges posed by the global economic slowdown,’ Patnaik said.

He also requested the central government to address other pressing issues in education, health, urban development, energy, coal and road infrastructure sectors.

July 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

How hunger kills hundreds in Balangir

Following is a TOI report:
BALANGIR: Enter any village under Belpada block of Balangir district and see how people battle for their existence. And how hunger can kill hundreds. Starving and emaciated, villagers often succumb to their circumstances.

The scenes in these villages will leave anyone speechless. Barring a few who own land, most villagers depend on nature. They collect forest produce for their sustenance.

TOI visited Bileimara village, 17 km from the block headquarters and met Bhaktaram Bariha, who is 65. For the past 10 years he has been bed-ridden. His spouse had died of some mysterious disease years ago. What is most pitiable is that he was forced to marry off his two daughters to the same man.

His son-in-law had promised to look after him and so Bariha gave away his second daughter, too, in marriage to this man. Today, all four stay together, the daughters look after the father and husband. Bariha does not get old age pension. Neither does he hold any entitlement card which can buy him subsidized rice at Rs two a kg.

Early morning all of them, barring Bariha, go to the forest to collect char, seeds and mahua flowers. They return home by evening. During their absence, Bariha’s granddaughter Srimati, who is five, looks after him. “I can’t remember any government official visiting this village. I was just a kid when someone came here and talked to some villagers and then vanished. We are fed up requesting the sarpanch to give us a BPL card or an IAY house. Every time he tells us that some procedure has to be followed and then the matter is forgotten,” said his daughter.

Sometime back, he developed a swelling on his neck. He sent his son to the nearby PHC to call a doctor, but he did not come. Finally, his son-in-law called a quack, whose medicines worsened his condition.

The life of Khatra Bariha, 65, of Rengtasil village, mirrors the despondency of his village. He lost his wife after two months of their marriage. A few years later, he lost his two sisters. He had lost his parents when he was young. A stark example of peripatetic life, Khatra constructed a thatched house on the outskirts of the village.

The house is closed from all sides. Every time he goes to the village to fetch water and other essential items, he breaks the thatched wall and then reshapes it. His only possessions are perhaps two bowls and some clothes. Khatra said he asked the sarpanch to get him a BPL card, but the sarpanch asked to him to prove his identity. He collects forest produce and exchanges them in village shops for rice and other items!

Bariha and Khatra are just metaphors of a larger canvas. For these 800-odd poverty-stricken villagers, the forest is a source of sustenance. Adhikar, a voluntary organization, has submitted a list to the government giving names of villagers who are living in this pathetic condition. But there has been no action yet. Jatin Patra, who surveyed the areas and prepared the list, said there’s been no development in the villages in the past 20 years. “Except improving the condition of some roads, there’s been no visible development,” he said.

Five of a family recently died of hunger in Chabripali village under Khaprakhol block. But even this painful incident failed to move the administration.

May 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Central Rice Research Institute,Cuttack releases 11 new rice varieties

Following is a PTI report:

Cuttack, Apr 20 (PTI) The Central Rice Research Institute here has come up with at least 11 new high-yielding varieties of rice, five of which are exclusively suitable for cultivation in Orissa.

With this, the institute has released 76 rice varieties for different ecosystems since its inception in 1948.

Of these, at least 44 varieties are suitable for Orissa, CRRI Director T K Adhya said today.

Adhya said the new varieties were recently released by the central and state committees for general cultivation in different parts of the country.

While varieties like CR Dhan-701, CR Dhan-601, CR Boro Dhan-2, CR Dhan-401 and CR Dhan-501 are released by the central committee for cultivation in Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, the Orissa sub-committee has released CR Dhan-801, CR Dhan-401, CR Dhan 402, CR Dhan-403 and CR Dhan-901 for cultivation in the state, Adhya said.

April 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

District-level workshop held on high-yielding SRI paddy cultivation

Following is a report by The Pioneer:

A district-level workshop on SRI method of paddy cultivation was held at Rajaji Town Hall at Padampur in Bargarh district under the chairmanship of president of Shramika Sangha, Sohela, Muralidhar Sahu on Tuesday.

The workshop was organised by Sahabhagi Vikash Abhiyan (SVA) in collaboration with Dehradun-based NGO People’s Science Institute (PSI). While State SC/ST Development Minister Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha attended the workshop as chief guest, Padampur sub-collector Prabhat Ku Bhoi and NAC Padampur chairman Pritam Meher were the guests of honour. District agriculture officer Pradip Kumar Barik attended as chief speaker.

Sahabhagi Vikash Abhiyan (SVA) has been working on the development of agriculture in western Odisha and it has been organising various training programmes for farmers in Bargarh, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Balangir districts.

Notably the SRI method of paddy cultivation yields double production to the farmers. In the workshop, several successful farmers from Bargarh district who followed the SRI method gave their view and explained the advantages of the SRI method. Among others Bargarh district coordinator of SVA, Hrushikesh Pradhan, programme officer of SVA, Satyanarayan Kar, plant protection officer of Padampur, Tapan Ku Mohapatra and VAW Padampur, Upendranath Kuar attended the workshop.

January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm Leave a comment

Odisha may face food crisis

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

Odisha’s agrarian economy is facing two challenges: disasters like drought, flood and cyclone and lack of input intensive farming practice for poor farmers. In the State’s western region, drought occurs every alternate year. People can no more rely on agriculture for their subsistence.

Costs of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and wages have registered a substantial hike, whereas the market has failed to provide a competitive price to the farmers. The State’s agriculture policy considers agriculture as an industry and the benefits of the policy skews in favour of rich farmers. There is a growing consideration for commercialisation of agriculture.

Since there is no ceiling on land holding, this would promote land alienation. The poor farmers would sell away their land and prefer to remain as wage earners.

The current approaches of agriculture give emphasis on promotion of hybrid seeds, water-intensive crops like sugarcane, which would surely increase the frequency of drought, especially in western Odisha, where the monsoon is always erratic. Farmers belonging to all economic strata are after paddy and cash crops, where investment is high and the return is not guaranteed.

Farming of short-duration paddy, minor millets and the like, which was really providing food security, are on the decline because of the faulty policy and programmes. While rain-fed agriculture is the reality of this region, irrigation has been shown as the only panacea for this problem. But whatever irrigation potential has been created, the actual irrigation is much less than practised. Irrigation efficiency is abysmally low here because of predominance of paddy.

In coastal Odisha, though yield and production are high, flood and cyclone have been crucial in sustainability of agriculture.

Rising prices of inputs are another threat. The shift from foodgrains to cash crops is rapid, which is a threat to food security. The fluctuations in the market, poor functioning of the existing irrigation systems, water-logging and drainage, erratic behaviour of monsoon and mono cropping are the significant factors in the sustainability of agriculture in coastal Odisha.

The Government approaches both flood and drought as two different sets of problems. For flood control, the present thinking is to come out with a second dam on the Mahanadi. And for drought, the approach is for developing irrigation infrastructure. But over these years, crores of rupees have been spent on developing irrigation wells, bore wells, minor irrigation projects, etc, with very little impact on agriculture. In most of the cases, these infrastructures are not in use because of structural problems, improper management, inappropriate cropping pattern and poor linkage between the farmers and the agriculture and irrigation departments.

The water resources department holds the view that it has offered the best possible system design, which needs no change. It is the people who must change their habits and use the system as per the design provisions. The department is, however, not prepared to accept the fact that the design provisions and the system performance to support the desired crops are incompatible. Thus, the issue of improving irrigation efficiency has come to a dead end due to non-congruence of the stands taken by each stakeholder. What is being done in this regard is simply for the sake of doing something. Key issues are not being touched.

Still worse is that many of the current programmes are a mere repetition of ideas which already had failed in the past. Shifting incumbency in the Government makes it difficult for the newcomers to recognise the old wine presented in a new bottle. Well, things will continue with whatever is considered appropriate by the reigning authority at a given point of time, but the desired result will not definitely come unless the key issues are addressed.

Nothing is sacrosanct in this world; much less is a design methodology of an irrigation system. To the onlookers, it is already obsolete. Only the authors are sticking to it as their all-time best. If the present system has defied improvement for about half a century now, logically there is a case for reviewing it by a group of high powered onlookers. Unfortunately, the irrigation fraternity is so deeply entrenched and their lobby with any Government is so strong that it has been ordinarily impossible to make any dent on their fortress. It will need an extraordinary effort of the kind of public demonstration to shake the immobile.

December 3, 2009 at 10:18 am 1 comment


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