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Late paddy sowing   
 
THE paddy growers are hard-pressed to cultivate rice. Plantation of the crop is still going on because of delay in availability of water and even at the risk of lower yield per acre. This year?s Kharif has been the worst for paddy growers because of severe water shortage.

Agriculture experts believe paddy yield would be 20-30 per cent less even if the sowing target is met. An assessment by the Crop Reporting Service of Sindh Agriculture Department shows that paddy sowing was reported at 46 per cent of the target by July 23 against 82 per cent in the corresponding month last year. About 22 per cent water shortage was recorded in April, 21 in May and 28 per cent in June.

Last year, rice was planted on 708,000 hectares and the production was 2.4 million tons. The sowing target this season is the same as that of last year- 642,000 hectares.

Area under rice cultivation in Sindh is around 1.6-1.8 million acres and would have been bigger had the Kotri barrage?s command area not been intruded by sea. The Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) claims that out of 2.8 million acres of Kotri?s command area, paddy used to be grown on 1.5-1.8 million acres, but around 600,000 acres have been devoured by the sea.

As a result of the late availability of water, plantation of paddy would continue till August end in lower and upper Sindh regions. Non-perennial canals of Sukkur barrage are operated on May 5. In lower Sindh, Kharif begins in early April subject to availability of water which places farmers in somewhat comfortable position to prepare the nursery on time.

The maturity period of nurseries varies between 20 to 25 and 30 to 40 days depending on the varieties. If this period gets prolonged, the yield is bound to be affected. Safe estimates show that in 25 per cent cases growers are having belated nurseries.
 

 


?Prudent growers will forego their crop and wait for Rabi,? said SAB?s Abdul Majeed Nizamani. He differs that 46 per cent sowing had taken place by July this year and says that it is somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent. He observes that salinity and water-logging caused by paddy cultivation in upper Sindh is a big issue which needs to be tackled effectively.

Paddy cultivation is banned in the Guddu and Sukkur barrages? command area which is otherwise meant for growing cotton. The upper Sindh region does not have proper drainage system and the rising water table is destroying land, civic infrastructure, trees and orchards.

Sindh contributes 35 to 40 per cent to country?s rice production. Yet it is always on the receiving end due to water dispute and faulty implementation of the Water Accord 1991 or unilateral decisions taken in Irsa. Sindh?s internal mismanagement of water distribution aggravates the situation further.
 

 

Generally coarse variety is grown in Sindh including Irri-6, DR83, DR92, KS282, Shahkar, KS82, and KS133. Nursery for Irri-6 is prepared by May 15 to June 16 for transplantation by July 17. For late varieties like DR92, KS-82, DR82 and Shahkar transplantation takes place in June and July. Irri-6 is popular in Sindh, followed by DR92 and DR83, Shahkar, KS82 and KSS133. Growers would sow DR92 and DR83 as late varieties though with less yield as compared to Irri-6 with 60 maunds per acre yield on an average against potential of 80 maunds.

Hybrid seed is another choice of growers of lower Sindh where climatic conditions suit it. But due to higher moisture level, millers offer rates to growers that are less than those offered for other varieties. Growers still find it affordable in view of high per acre yield of hybrid seed.

Agronomist of Rice Research Institute, Dokri, Nehal Marri, says growers opt for hybrid seed that produces 80-85 maunds per acre. Even its late transplantation is affordable for growers. Last year it was grown on 15-16 per cent land. He supports the view that late transplantation will lead to 30 per cent drop in paddy production.

Not only poor inflows in the Indus upstream, injudicious water distribution is another reason that leads to low yields. Here the tail-end growers, particularly small farmers, suffer the most.

Courtesy: The DAWN
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