Delayed rains, heat wave could hit Punjab crop yield

June 24th, 2009 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, June 24 (IANS) Food grain production, especially of paddy, will be badly hit this year in Punjab if the monsoon was delayed further and the heat wave continued, agriculture experts here say.
Punjab’s agriculture department officials said though the panic button had not been pressed yet, paddy plantation could take a beating if the rains failed, especially given the acute water and power crisis in the state.

“The delayed monsoon and heat wave can damage the paddy crop,” said agriculture director B.S. Sidhu.

According to joint director Surjit Singh Pawar, the agriculture department is monitoring paddy cultivation across the state.

“The lack of rains, heat wave and power crisis could pose a problem,” he said.

Temperatures s far this month have hovered above 40 degrees Celsius.

Agriculture officials in neighbouring Haryana also expressed concern about the paddy harvest this season.

Punjab and Haryana together account for over half the country’s annual foodgrains production. Both states saw a bumper wheat crop production in May with over 175 lakh tonnes of wheat being procured this season.

Faced with a dire situation in the paddy season, the Punjab government is preparing to introduce rotational rationing of irrigation waters through canals.

“We are asking all farmers to carefully plan sowing and irrigation of their paddy crop to make optimal use of the available water,” said Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon.

Nearly 11.93 lakh hectares of land in Punjab is irrigated by canals and over 27 lakh hectares use tube well or ground water. The ground water table in many areas of the state has depleted drastically in the last few years.

Three major dams in the region - Bhakra Dam, Pong Dam and Ranjit Sagar Dam - have received less tha normal water this year. As a result, both power generation supply of water through canals have been affected.

The Bhakra reservoir water level stands at just over 1,504 feet, 90 feet lower than its level last year. Water level at Pong and Ranjit Sagar are also lower compared to last year, dam officials said.

Bhakra Beas Management Board, which manages the Bhakra and Pong dams, has described the water level situation as “precarious”.

Met office director for this region, Chhatar Singh Malik, told IANS that monsoon was “surely delayed” and moving slowly this year.

Last year, the monsoon had arrived June 13.

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