‘Knowledge of crop-weather relationship key to handle dry spell’
TIRUPATI: Dr. V. Rajagopal, Director (Retd), Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasargod, Kerala who is currently heading the Tirupati-based ‘Regional Bureau of Agriculture Today’, a national agricultural magazine, has come out with a paper on drought management, the burning issue in the context of an acute 52 per cent deficit in rainfall in the country in June with bleak prospects of an improvement in July.
Mr. Rajagopal and the co-author of the paper K.V. Kasturi Bai, both specialists on drought research, have in their article pointed out that the pattern of monsoon and agriculture production were two inseparable entities heavily impacting the economic growth.
He said the non-availability of late maturing varieties to tide over the problem in case of a monsoon revival would further aggravate the woes of the farmers and opined that advanced technologies seldom reduced monsoon dependence, since dry land management did not percolate to farmers to desired extent.
Saying that monsoon was officially declared as ‘precarious’, he quoted official figures which indicated a 20 per cent plus deficiency in 25 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions, almost 65 per cent.
As high as 80 per cent cumulative deficit is reported in western Uttar Pradesh followed by 75 per cent in Gujarat, 71 in Punjab, 69 in Himachal Pradesh, 65 in Uttaranchal, 62 in Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi and an alarming 39 per cent in Andhra Pradesh.
Highlighting that the knowledge on crop-weather relationship was the key to work-out strategies to handle the crises, the two scientists underscored the need to add value to data generated on various parameters and apply them to all farm operations right from sowing to storage stage.
In their contingency plan to tackle the problem, the two have listed the following measures: categorising regions as severely, moderately and mildly affected based on the length of the dry-spell and its impact, assessing the loss of seedlings already raised and saving surviving ones with mulching and ‘life saving irrigation’ if necessary by transporting from adequate areas, making a quick inventory of drought resistant varieties available with ICRISAT, ICAR, State agriculture universities and other agencies, preparing such promising materials on priority basis and arrange distribution to the most needy farmers, help them undertake sowing etc, arranging insurance through banks to the aggrieved, putting in place ‘advisory cell’ at village/block levels to guide farmers, constituting multi-disciplinary teams of scientists to visit farmers’ fields.
They summed up their paper saying “evergreen revolution is difficult if more dry areas are allowed to be developed and policy decisions wait for monsoon and rainfall deviations to take place”.