Paddy cropping in Odisha affected by erratic rainfall

Last Updated August 09, 2023


Bhubaneswar, Aug 9: The paddy cultivation has been affected in a major part of Odisha due to erratic and scanty rainfall this year

 Odisha is the fourth largest contributor to the paddy pool of the Food Corporation of India. As per available statistics for 2020-21, Odisha produces 9 percent of total rice in India and 4.2 percent of total food-grain productions of the country, proving it a rice-surplus state.

Odisha had met the buffer stock of rice in fiscal 2022-23 as essential for the state to address the Food Security Act well. It was due to the abundance in production of the principal foodgrain of the state, for the well-distributed and equitable rainfall across the Odisha landscape.

However, this year almost no premonsoon rain and delayed monsoon across all 30 districts of Odisha has brought adverse situations for the paddy farmers. The onset of the monsoon after June 20 and subsequent deficient rainfall during the sowing season has brought immense problems for the paddy croppers. Paddy fields, not only in the dry, mountainous, and scanty-rainfall districts were also affected due to the adverse climatic conditions but also the same situations were faced by the farmers of Bargarh, Sambalpur, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, and Kendrapara despite a well-to-do potential of permanent irrigation projects. Paddy cropping along the Mahanadi River systems, its lower catchments, and even downstream of the Hirakud Dam also faced the same situation due to low or no premonsoon rain in the districts having mega irrigation projects. The Hirakud reservoir witnessed a drastic fall in its water level in the summer. Due to the Kama barrage in Chhattisgarh, it was shut down for almost a year. The reservoir and the whole Mahanadi distributaries were as if waiting for a few unseasonal summer showers and at least a few drips of water from the slurs of the Kalma checkmate. It left no way out for the Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, and Sonepur-based farmers to utilize irrigated water in the paddy fields, for early processing of their lands, before the onset of the monsoon in June. Let alone the hilly rain shed districts like Keonjhar, Koraput, and Malkangiri, coastal districts viz Puri, Balasore and Ganjam faced the same situation in June, due to scanty rainfall in the Odisha coasts, as against the normal rainfall in the region.

According to Dharanidhar Sahu, a recognized paddy cropper in Angul,  usually, the paddy cultivation process begins from the Akshaya Tritiya, which almost falls in the  2nd week of May. Similarly, the field should have been prepared a few weeks ago with favorable dry weather.

However, this year's monsoon has failed to meet the paddy cropper's expectations in many ways. The monsoon arrived in Odisha about a fortnight after the sowing season. A deficit of about 32 percent rainfall was recorded by the IMD by July 26, which affected paddy farming in Odisha districts. 

According to the statistics of the Agriculture Department, Odisha has a geographical area of 1,55,707 square km which is divided into ten agro-climatic zones depending on the soil type, topography, rainfall, and cropping pattern. The total cultivated land of the state is 61.80 lakh hectares out of which 29. 14 lakh ha. is high land 17.55 lakh ha. Is medium land and, 51.11 ha low land. Out of it, 38.80 lakh hectares are paddy lands sowed in the kharif season which is about 66.6 percent of the total cultivable land. Apart from it, paddy is cultivated on 11.1 lakh hectares in the rabi season.

As per production, Odisha has been harvesting more than that 65.85 lakh metric tons of paddy annually in the Kharif season and at least 10.28 lakh metric tons during the rabi season. The paddy production in the state is witnessing greater fluctuations almost every year. 

However, during this monsoon, according to the Regional IMD Centre BBSR, the state witnessed about 28 percent less rainfall in July that hit the paddy seedling in the high-land regions. However, the regular cloudbursts from July 26 to August 2 created flash floods in the lowlands. As a result, paddy saplings could neither be planted nor field processing for new seedlings could be taken up as excessive rainwater left the lowlands absolutely inundated for more than a week.

 Among other districts which received high rainfalls, hilly Malkangiri witnessed 603 mm of rain in July whereas coastal district Puri received 175.16 mm of monsoon rain. Similarly, one of the drought-prone districts of the state Angul recorded at least 299.62 mm, and irrigation potential in Cuttack district experienced about 206.43 mm during the peak period of paddy cropping. Apart from it, the moderately irrigated Kandhamal district got 442.89 mm monsoon rain recently which comes in contrast with the annual normal and periodic rainfall of the district.

The state receives around 1143 mm of monsoon rain from June to September. Similarly, before the paddy bears flowers and grains, about 150.7 mm post-monsoon fulfills the requirements of variants of paddies cultivated here. Thus, Odisha receives at least 1451.2 mm of rain annually, creating a conducive climate for paddy cultivation.

According to a survey of the State Agriculture Department, coverage of paddy sowing area is far behind the last year due to the irregular rainfall. Even the sowing areas in the irrigated districts have been drastically affected due to the excess rainfall during a few days of August.

"The incessant rain across the state in the last week has lagged behind paddy cropping even in the paddy bowls of Odisha including Balasore, Bargarh, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Ganjam, and Bhadrak districts", said Agriculturist Suchana Rath.

Achyutananda Sahu, a techie-turned-Agro-entrepreneur said, “We can never rely on this year’s monsoon. It’s too late for paddy-cropping as Gamha Purnami or the Rakhi Purnima, is approaching fast”.




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