M A I N   N E W S

Wet spell worries farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
While officials of the Agriculture Department of the Central Government say that the rain has improved further the prospects of Rabi crops at the national level, farmers in this region are worried because of the prolonged wet spell of weather.

For the past several years, it is a wettest fortnight of February in this region. About 29 mm rainfall has been recorded in the second week of this month whereas last year it was just 4.9 mm. Even during the first week of current month, rainfall recorded was 7.2 mm, far better compared to the last year’s figure of 0.4 mm.

What has caused concern among farmers of Punjab and Haryana region is the repeated spells of hailstorm that have damaged Rabi crops in Malwa belt’s several villages. Already, the Punjab Government has ordered a special girdavari to assess the damage. The Financial Commissioner (Development), Mr P.K. Verma, has visited the areas hit by storms. “ In certain areas wheat and other crops have been completely wiped out”, say government officials. The prevailing inclement weather has made farmers a bit jittery.

A senior officer of the Agricultural Commission of India told The Tribune today that the wet weather would certainly give a big boost to rabi crops in the areas of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar etc which are dependent on rain. “It is widespread rain and is a good development for farmers of the states where canal irrigation facilities are not adequate. But we have also come across reports of damage caused by hailstorms in Punjab and Haryana. It was a cause of worry to us also as well as farmers”, he said. “We have not assessed the approximate increase in production of rabi crops at the national level yet, but increase would certainly be there”, he added.

In Punjab farmers and experts differ over the good and bad effects of rain at this stage. Farmers say, “It is not required at all now. Crops have been damaged by fast-blowing winds accompanied by rain. Return of bright days will be a welcome development”. The other factor disturbing the farmers is accumulation of water in wheat fields. Because of it, crops have started turning yellow, assert farmers. Availability of green fodder to livestock has also been hit.

However, experts say that the rain is helping in keeping the day as well as night temperature low, which is the need of the hour. “These are technical matters which farmers may not be able to understand”, they argue. The minimum temperature in the region should be in the range of 9 degrees Celsius during this period for the formation of healthy grains among wheat plants. Sudden upward swing in the temperature is bad for grain formation, they add.

“In fact we were feeling concerned when few days ago, the minimum temperature rose to 14 degrees Celsius, which was not good for the wheat crop”, said a senior functionary of Punjab Agricultural University. The temperature plays a crucial role in the formation of healthy wheat grains and determines its yield. Slow rise in temperature is gainful instead of the sudden rise in the temperature that proves harmful.


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