Torrential rain and flooding in the last few days have destroyed paddy cultivation across more than 80,000 hectares in four districts of south Bengal.
This year, there could be a shortfall of around 42 lakh tonnes. The damage has caused the state agriculture department to raise concerns about shortage of rice but hopes for a better situation when the kharif crop is harvested in the winter.
Inundation in the four south Bengal districts of Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore, which destroyed paddy on huge tracts of land, could lead to a production loss of nearly 7 lakh tonnes of rice.
According to agriculture department officers, this would affect the state’s target of 110 lakh tonnes for the monsoon season, which would have helped achieve the year’s target of 145 lakh tonnes.
Sources pointed out that the state government was banking on the monsoon crop t because farmers have not been getting good price for the winter crop in the last few years and have been losing interest in winter cultivation.
A senior official pointed out that despite the winter crop’s target being around 15 lakh tonnes, the state has failed to reach it for the last three years.
According to officials, the shortfall has also been due to increasing price of fertilisers and diesel, which are crucial to farmers, particularly during the winter cultivation.
“During the June-August harvest, diesel is not that important because fields get automatically irrigated by rains. For the winter crop, diesel is an integral element but the price is becoming prohibitive,” a senior official said.