Dry spell likely to hit paddy yield by 25%



PANAJI: The virtual absence of rain during the months of August and September is expected to hit the state’s paddy crop badly. Although the agriculture department is still assessing the setback to the total crop due to the scanty rainfall, initial estimates look gloomy for paddy during the ongoing kharif season.

Director of agriculture Nelson Figueiredo said that the lack of rainfall is worrying but how much of production will be hit will depend on which stage the crop is at the moment and on the location of land. The department is estimating a 20-25 per cent drop in paddy output due to the absence of rain, he said.

Figueiredo pointed out that in Salcete taluka where the crop is near maturity, the production will not be affected but in other talukas and especially in upland areas where the soil moisture has reduced, the fear is of loss in yield. “Wherever the paddy crop was sown late, say after July 15, we expect the cultivation to take a hit,” said Figueiredo.

Bulk of paddy in the state is grown by traditional methods despite efforts by the government to popularise the SRI (system of rice intensification) method of cultivation. The traditional method requires a lot of water and copious rainfall to submerge the crops while growing and even afterwards when the ear heads are developing.

Speaking to this daily, some farmers said that they are heading for a loss due to failure of monsoon. Ceaser Machado, a farmer from Taleigao, said that the Taleigao-Caranzalem region is badly affected by the scarcity of rain with land developing cracks in some places.

Nestor Rangel, a farmer from St Estevam, said that if there is standing water in the field, the grains start filling but in the absence of water they become hollow. “Paddy is a crop that requires lot of water and with no rainfall for over a month-and-half there is the possibility that we may lose the crop,” said Rangel.

Bardez, Salcete and Tiswadi are the main talukas where paddy is cultivated in Goa followed by talukas such as Pernem, Canacona, Quepem and Ponda. The agriculture department expects the crop in Salcete to be saved due to early sowing.

Over 70 per cent of paddy cultivation in the state is during the kharif (rainy) season. Goa’s paddy production is decreasing with the area under cultivation remaining more or less unchanged at 40,823 hectares and production of 1,69,842 tonnes in 2016-17.