Farmers raise demands for compensation as UP, Bihar, Jharkhand gear up for 'drought-like conditions'
With the monsoon season coming to an end in India, major rice producing states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have recorded deficient rainfall. The governments in these states have begun responding to the crop losses but farmers underline that nothing short of a compensation can help them recover the losses sustained by drought-like conditions. Details here.
Ashish Anand 14 Sep 2022 2:42 PM GMT
Having imposed curbs on the export of rice in the wake of deficit rainfall resulting in lower sowing of paddy in the key rice-producing states, the governments in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand have now begun taking up measures to provide respite to the cultivators.
From aerial surveys, to surveying of crop losses and free of cost distribution of seeds, the governments in the three states have adopted several measures to appease farmers who, however, are uninterested in the state response which they allege is 'too little too late'.
"The drought has wreaked havoc for farmers like us. I have lost all my savings on my paddy crop. A farmer never wants compensation, all he wants is the crop to be good. But whenever the crop is damaged beyond recovery, the farmer never gets actual compensation for his loss. What compensation is provided to farmers is completely dependent on the government's intentions," Mohit Mishra, a farmer from Brahmavali village in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur district told Gaon Connection.
According to the data released by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), as on September 14, Uttar Pradesh is reeling with a deficit rainfall by minus 46 per cent, Bihar by minus 35 per cent and Jharkhand by minus 21 per cent.
According to the progress report of the kharif [summers] crop situation published on September 2 by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, across the country, there has been a decrease of minus 22.90 per cent in the sowing of paddy as compared to last year.
However, despite the crop losses suffered by farmers due to deficient rainfall, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have all fallen short of declaring a drought this year.
Here's how the response of three state governments been to drought-like conditions so far:
Uttar Pradesh launches survey to assess crop losses
Last week, on September 7, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took to social media to assure the farmers that the state government was sensitive to the issue of deficient rainfall and damage to crops, and help was on the way.
He said the district magistrates of each of the state's 75 districts were instructed to form teams that would conduct surveys on the drought-like-conditions and compile and present a report in a week's time to the government.
Meanwhile, Harpal Singh, a 31-year-old farmer from Maholiya Viran village in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur district stated that following the survey, the compensation offered by the government after assessing the losses should actually compensate the farmers.
"Small farmers are most affected by losses as big farmers have the capital to minimise losses by making some arrangements. It is good to have a drought survey done but farmers should also get its benefits. Even when compensation is received, it is not often not equal to the actual losses suffered by the farmers," the farmer told Gaon Connection.
Bihar advises alternate farming
On September 11, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted an aerial survey of the districts facing drought-like situations which included Nalanda, Sheikhpura, Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger, Banka, Bhagalpur, Khagaria, and Samastipur. Further, he instructed officials to assess the drought-like conditions from the block, and panchayat to the village level of the affected districts and to make complete preparations to provide relief to the farmers.
Earlier, on September 10, during a review meeting held to assess the drought-like situation caused by scanty rainfall in various districts, the chief minister instructed the Agriculture Department and Disaster Management Department to provide all possible assistance to the farmers and to provide seeds to the farmers interested in the alternate cropping (cultivating another crop to compensate for losses suffered by a previous) at the earliest.
Bhanu Singh, a farmer from Deohalia village in Bihar's Kaimur district, however, is not pleased with the state government's measures to compensate for the losses suffered by the paddy farmers.
"I will harvest my paddy crop by November. All this announcement of seed distribution for alternate cropping is a sham, I wonder which alternate crop can be sown and reaped before November. We need the fields ready for the next sowing season and if we get late in doing so, our next crop will also suffer," Singh told Gaon Connection.
"Every year I used to sow paddy on 60 to 70 acres [about 28 hectares] but this year I was only able to cultivate on 40 acres due to low rainfall. Even after, I have a tube well of my own to irrigate my fields, such is the drought that I could not plant paddy like previous years. Most of the farmers are poor and don't even have tubewells or any other source to irrigate fields," he added.
Free seed distribution & crop damage relief launched in Jharkhand
Meanwhile, Badal Patralekh, Jharkhand's Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Cooperative stated on Twitter on September 12 that the government has announced the distribution of free seeds worth Rs 200 million amongst the farmers under the special crop extension scheme.
Also, the state government ,on July 22, launched the Jharkhand Fasal Rahat Yojana to tackle crop losses suffered by farmers due to deficient rainfall. The Jharkhand government has also allotted a budget of Rs 1000 million to successfully implement the scheme.
"I have applied for a drought relief package under the state government's Jharkhand Rajya Fasal Rahat Yojna. Due to drought, I will face a loss of Rs 10,000 to 15,000 in paddy production. But I am less hopeful that the government will give due compensation," Sikandar Mahto, a farmer from Saraitoli village in Ranchi's Namkum block.
Since mid-July, Gaon Connection has been reporting on deficient rainfall in some paddy growing states in the Indo-Gangetic Plains. Below normal monsoon rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal has affected paddy sowing this year.
With inputs from Manoj Chaudhary in Jharkhand and Ramji Mishra in Shahjahanpur