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State govt mulls alternative agriculture methods to tackle rain deficit

State govt mulls alternative agriculture methods to tackle rain deficit

Kolkata: Concerned over the dearth of rainfall in the districts of South Bengal, the state Agriculture department is working on alternative agricultural methods to ensure that the farmers can carry out cultivation without much difficulty.

The preparation for sowing of Kharif crops kick off during June and by the middle of August, the process gets over. But the monsoon has been very feeble till date and as a result, the preparation of sowing could not be started yet.

"Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is concerned about the abnormal weather conditions and has given us necessary directions to ensure that the farmers are not inconvenienced in pursuing agriculture. She had instructed the department to adopt alternative agriculture methods, so that crops can be sown even if there is scanty rainfall. We are pinning hopes that the rain gods will smile at least in the last few days of this month. If there is reasonable amount of rain even during this period, we will be able to start preparations for Kharif sowing and by August it can be done," said Asish Banerjee, state Agriculture minister.

The average deficiency of rainfall in the state till date is 27 percent, courtesy of heavy rainfall in most of the districts of North Bengal. But in South Bengal, the percentage is as high as 60. As per figures of the department, the deficiency in rainfall is 62 percent in East and West Burdwan, 58 percent in North 24-Parganas, 55 percent in Nadia and 50 percent in East Midnapore.

In districts like Birbhum, Bankura, Murshidabad, Purulia, South 24-Parganas and Howrah, the scarcity of rainfall is over 40 percent. The low amount of rainfall has led to minimum storage of water in the dams, which is also an area of concern for the state government.

The minister said that the department is working on procedures of river lift irrigation and usage of submersible pumps at a number of places to facilitate sowing of Kharif crops.

"We have already introduced the Bangla Krishi Sech Yojana to extend support to farmers in setting up micro-irrigation facilities that will ensure cultivation using less amounts of water. The technological intervention ensures that cultivation of crops, mainly fruits and vegetables, can be done with minimum water. We

are also planning to extend this scheme to the maximum extent," an official in the state Agriculture department said.

The department has started campaigning among the farmers to create awareness on conservation of water and at the same time, urging them not to extract groundwater in an indiscriminate manner. The move comes in the wake of Chief Minister Mamata Banejee laying special emphasis on the 'Jal Dharo Jal Bharo' project for conservation of water.

SOUMITRA NANDI

SOUMITRA NANDI

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