Last year it was June 20. The delay helps in reducing the pressure on groundwater resources, by allowing the use of more rainwater instead. Agricultural scientists have warned of a severe depletion in groundwater this year as monsoon is not expected till the end of June. Meanwhile paddy sowing is already on in full swing.
West Bengal (12.34%, 195000ha, 01-Jun, 150d, Chandbali),
Uttar Pradesh (16.43%,
3716000ha, 15-Jun, 120d, Bareilly),
Andhra Pradesh (8.70%, 2503000ha, 01-Apr, 180d,Begampet),
Punjab (11.08%, 2447000ha, 01-Jul, 120d, Amritsar),
Tamil Nadu ( 8.55%, 1764000ha, 01-May, 150d, Banglore),
Bihar (9.40%, 1942000ha, 15-Jun, 120d, Bareilly),
Orissa (6.73%, 1375000ha, 01-Jun, 180d, Chandbali),
Madhya Pradesh (7.20%, 1282000ha, 15-Jul, 150d, Pendra),
Assam (4.10%, 296000ha, 15-Mar, 150d, Guahati),
Karnataka (3.38%, 615000ha, 150d, Banglore),
Haryana (3.42 %, 1024000ha, 150days,-),
Maharashtra (3.25%, 385000ha, 150d,-),
Gujarat (1.37%, 371000ha, 150d,-),
Kerala (0.83%, 139000ha, 150d,-),
Jammu & Kashmir (0.69%, 239000ha, 150d,-),
Tripura (0.55%, 150d,-),
Manipur (0.50%, 73000ha, 150d,-),
Rajasthan (0.29%, 63000ha, 150d,-),
Nagaland (0.28%, 65000ha,150d,-),
Meghalaya (0.21%, 45000ha, 150d,-),
Goa (0.20%, 14000ha, 150d,-),
Arunachal Pradesh (0.17%, 34000ha, 150d,-),
Himachal Pradesh (0.16%, 51000ha, 150d,-),
Mizoram (0.14%, 4000ha, 150d,-),
Sikkim (0.03%, 16000ha, 150d,-).
Note: Rainfed area in Khariff season in‘000ha:
West Bengal 4413,
Uttar Pradesh 2104,
Andhra Pradesh 172,
Tamil Nadu 164,
Madhya Pradesh 4139,
Jammu & Kashmir 26,
Arunachal Pradesh 85,
Himachal, Pradesh 32
Total rainfed area = 21606000ha
Rabi: West Bengal (36.43%, 1386000ha, 01-Dec, 150d, Chandbali),
Uttar Pradesh (0.12%, 6000ha, 01-Dec, 150d, Bareilly),
Andhra Pradesh (32.15%, 1232000ha, 01-Jan, 150d, Begampet),
Tamil Nadu (9.20%, 318000ha, 01-Nov, 150d, Banglore),
Bihar (2.24%, 128000ha, 01-Nov, 150d, Bareilly),
Orissa (5.19%, 295000ha, 01-Jan, 150d, Chandbali),
Assam (3.92%, 231000ha, 01-Jan, 150d, Guahati),
Karnataka (8.21%, 341000ha, 15-Jan, 150d, Banglore),
Maharashtra (0.55%, 33000ha,-),
Kerala (1.18%, 59000ha,-),
Tripura (0.81%, 55000ha,-),
Mizoram (0.01%, 1000 ha,-).
Note: Rabi crop is 100% irrigated in India. Total area under Rabi crop = 4085000ha
Country Crop season, major rice harvesting regions, share to the national production, irrigated area in % or ha, crop planting date, crop length in days and relevant climate stations.
Over-dependence on paddy
The rampant extraction of water is one of the consequences of the Green Revolution, which led to Punjab shifting from a diversified cropping system of wheat, maize, pulses, and vegetables to monoculture farming of wheat and paddy. Paddy cultivation was further incentivised with the state policy of free power.
Paddy is a great guzzler of water. Research has shown that it takes more than three times the water to grow paddy in Punjab compared to the flooded plains of Bihar or West Bengal. Of the total 5 million hectares area under cultivation in Punjab, rice (paddy and basmati) takes up nearly 3 million hectares, in contrast to 283,000 ha of cotton and 123,000 ha of maize.
The government has been promoting crop diversification but farmers are reluctant to adopt it. Ironically, Gurpreet Singh too grows wheat and paddy, which are procured by the government. “We can’t shift to other crops until the government gives us minimum support price and assurance of procurement.”
All across the state, farmers raise the same issues. A farmer in Mansa district, associated with a farmers’ union said, on condition of anonymity, “It takes 5,500 liters of water to grow one kilogram of rice. I don’t want to grow it; it’s not like I even make a profit with it but it protects me from loss.” He has drilled a tubewell 580 feet deep after he couldn’t find water at 120 feet. Another farmer in Mohali, who has gone down 800 feet, said, “Humein marne se koi nahin bacha sakta (no one can save us from dying).”
As in the rest of the country, these issues are deeply political. The government cannot reduce the power subsidy without losing its voter base. The date for transplanting paddy is announced by the government ever since the enactment of the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act in 2009. With elections this year, the Punjab government allowed the paddy sowing date to be advanced to June 13 to appease farmers.
The water footprint for rice production in India is the highest in the world. Rice has traditionally been cultivated across the country with flood irrigation. “Our irrigation patterns have not changed for centuries. We can’t afford to do that anymore. We need to adapt modern micro-irrigation methods like drip and sprinkler,” said Mukherjee.
But will that be enough to change the course of desertification of Punjab? A government official said on condition of anonymity: