Sixty-four districts of Uttar Pradesh received below normal rainfall this monsoon, with several experiencing drought conditions.
According to data from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), only 11 out of 75 districts in UP received normal rainfall till August 19.
While government officials say rain in the next few days will make up the shortfall, farmers fear it is already too late.
“Our crop is damaged. What will rain do later,” asks Bhagat Pal, a small-scale rice farmer from Jaunpur district in eastern UP.
Rice farmers have been particularly affected, first by the delay in the rains and then by their deficit.
Jaunpur is among the districts that received the least rainfall this monsoon.
According to IMD data, the district received 74% less rainfall. The district recorded only 123.2mm of rainfall this monsoon compared to the long period average (LPA) of 471.5mm till 19th August and falls under the category of major deficit regions.
“We had to delay transplanting paddy for more than a month due to the delay of monsoon. Many of us suffered losses. Now the paddy we managed to transplant somehow another is affected due to lack of rain,” said Kuljeet Singh. from Katra region of Shahajahanpur district.
Experts say rice paddies should ideally be flooded with at least a few inches of water for about a month after transplanting. Lack of rain leads to weed growth and affects plant development.
The situation is particularly grim in the East UP, where precipitation is 50% below LPA.
Farrukhabad of UP received 80% less rainfall. Thirty-nine districts in UP received less than 50% rainfall.
In view of the situation, BJP MP Harish Dewedi and party MP Vir Vikrama Singh have written to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, asking for Shahajahanpur, Basti and East UP to be declared drought affected.
It comes after the CM ordered officials in July to prepare an action plan to address the rain deficit.
District level officials have been urged to maintain contact with farmers and agricultural scientists to provide correct information to farmers on how to deal with the situation.
Uttar Pradesh relief commissioner Ranvir Prasad said the government was monitoring the situation and it would be too early to declare a drought.
“We are watching all aspects of the monsoon closely and data is being collected daily. Rainfall has been less but it will be too early to announce drought as we are still in the planting season,” he said.
The officer said any decision to declare drought will be made in accordance with established protocols after the October monsoon.
In the meantime, the departments concerned have been asked to make arrangements so that farmers can irrigate their fields.
While officials say they are doing everything they can to undo the effect of reduced rainfall, farmers complain that nothing is being done on the ground.
“The canal near our farms is drying up. We don’t have enough money to pay for diesel to irrigate the paddy. The only hope left is rain but the gods seem to be angry with us. seeing our crops die and worrying about our future,” exclaimed Mohan Chand Verma, a rice farmer from Sitapur PTI CDN RDK RDK