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India West Bengal State Lacks Funds to Procure Paddy Rice; Bihar State Announces Bonus on MSP of Paddy Rice


  Jan 24, 2014

India’s eastern state of West Bengal is planning to use private rice millers to procure paddy rice from farmers due to lack of funds with the government to procure paddy rice directly.

Rice production in West BengaI was estimated to fall to around 13 million tons this year due to adverse weather conditions, but the state produced around 15.3 million tons. Meanwhile, government officials say that paddy rice procurement by government agencies stands at around 88,058 tons, which is just about 7% of the targeted 1.3 million tons. The government has also discontinued the Rs. 70 per quintal (about $11 per ton) bonus on paddy support price in 2012 due to lack of funds.

Higher production and lower procurement have led to decline in paddy rice prices. Local sources say that farmers are forced to sell their paddy rice at around Rs. 1,280 per quintal (about $ 207 per ton) to private traders, which is down about 3% from the minimum government support price (MSP) of Rs. 1,310 per quintal (about $212 per ton). The West Bengal government says that early procurement of levy rice by millers will strengthen paddy prices and encourage farmers to re-invest in the boro season rice crop which begins in January-end.

However, local sources say that the move by the government is to appease farmers ahead of general elections in April – May 2014. Moreover, there are concerns that rice prices may increase in the state if farmers sell their paddy rice in the neighboring state of Bihar, where the state government has announced a bonus of Rs. 250 per quintal (about $40 per ton).

The West Bengal government usually procures levy rice from millers after March, but wants to complete levy rice procurement before March this year. Under the levy rice policy, millers procure rice from farmers at MSP and government buys the rice from millers later for its welfare programs.

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J’khand: To harvest paddy or not,that’s farmers’ dilemma

Ashok Oraon has not tilled three of his 4.5 acre land — not far from Patki village in Senha block — that had always yielded rice for him and his family’s survival for almost six months a year since childhood. For the second consecutive year,the monsoon,on which farming here is heavily dependent,has played a cruel joke on him,his wife and five children.

Like last year,this time too short bursts of rain were followed by long dry spells,and just when they began to think of an alternative,a fresh spell of drizzle rekindled their hope,prompting them to sow paddy in a patch of land some time in July.

Now with the sowing time over and little rain in Patki,their paddy crops look yellow. They are actually stubble — barely two feet long — unfit even for fodder,according to Oraon. “Still we have to harvest them because otherwise they will take roots and spoil the fertility of the soil,” cribs Jatin,Oraon’s son,who studies in Class VII.

The farmers’ story across the state is largely the same,with all 24 districts having been declared drought-hit.

In the adjacent Sisai village in Gumla district,two other Oraons do not have much to do apart from airing their despair due to the unprecedented drought. One has left his entire field barren and the other seems to be better off with paddy sprouting in his low-lying land,thanks to its location near the riverbed with lift irrigation installed with subsidies from the government.

But acres and acres of tanr (up land) that were used to grow paddy crop look parched. “The wild plants that have come up are going to create an additional problem. We have to remove them before we use it for sowing a fresh crop. We are ruined,” says Naresh Manjhi,cursing the rain god for depriving him of an opportunity to plough his fields this monsoon.

Two years ago,the low-lying area of Ranchi district was concerned with water logging. Drainage of water,and not irrigation,was the main concern. The dry spells in the past two years have left the villagers bewildered. They had never felt the need of irrigation,but this time it is the deficit in rain that has left them down.

In Ranchi,three dams — Gonda,Rukka and Dhurva — that supplied water to its residents have less than 30 per cent of their total capacity. A report prepared by the public health department states that Gonda,Rukka and Dhurva had less than 17,21 and 20 million cubic metres against their capacity of 2126,1980 and 2198 million cubic metres of water respectively.

So,what’s the government doing under President’s Rule? With Governor MOH Farook keeping a close eye on the situation,the state government has undertaken measures like:

n The disaster management department has allocated Rs 4.37 crore for purchasing 4567 MT rice,to be given to the panchayats.

n A ‘control room’ manned by the government staff has been set up at every block and its telephone number made public so that any person is in need  can get in touch for help.

n To meet with the water shortage,10 deep well boring have been planned to be dug in each of the over 4,500 panchayats in the state.

“We will leave no stone unturned to provide relief to all those who need it,” says Chief Secretary A K Singh. The state government has sought Rs 5,000 crore assistance from the Centre to start its relief operation. In response,a central team headed by the National Horticulture Mission Director Vijay Kumar visited some affected villages. “The scene is alarming as we have noted that an average 30-35 per cent seeds could be sown due to weak monsoon in the state. The rainfall has been 45-50 per cent below normal so far,” said a member of the team on condition of anonymity.
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State to implement MNAIS in four crops

The State government has decided to implement Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) in four crops such as paddy, groundnut, mustard and potato.

The State level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance in its last meeting resolved that the unit area of insurance of paddy would be Gram Panchayat and for other crops such as groundnut, mustard and potato, the unit would be block.

“It is decided to take the block as the unit of crop insurance for other crops namely groundnut, mustard and potato as the Gram Panchayat will not be having adequate crop coverage to conduct required number of crop cutting experiments and breaking up of the area to clusters of a maximum of 15 villages to form a unit will not be feasible in view of the dispersed locations of the villages,” the committee said.

It further decided to move Union government for consideration of block as unit area of insurance for groundnut, mustard and potato.

The State government would cover 23 of 30 districts for implementation of MNAIS for paddy. Similarly, insurance for groundnut would be extended in 18 districts, mustard (11 districts) and potato (19 districts).


Integrated rice-fish cultivation for East India

Rice is the major staple food crop of India which is being cultivated in about 41 million hectares.

However, its productivity is poor in India when compared to several other nations like South Korea, China etc.

The scenario is more alarming in Eastern India where farmers end up with very low productivity of rice.

At the same time, the ecological situation of rice fields in Eastern India facilitates the inclusion of fish component especially in saucer shaped lands, lowlands and waterlogged ecosystems.

Huge potential

There exists a huge potential for integrated rice-fish farming which can generate additional net returns to the farmers along with higher crop and water productivity.

Though there is a scope for implementing integrated rice-fish farming in about 23 million hectares, the existing area under this farming system is below 1 million hectares.

There is a need to analyse the reasons for low adoption of this technology and to formulate the management strategies. Integrated rice-fish farming results in mutual benefit to both rice and fish. Rice is benefited in the form of additional nutrients which come from fish excreta.

In addition, the aquatic weeds of rice also get reduced due to fish presence. In turn, fish gets benefit in the form of favourable micro climate due to presence of rice plants. However, rice requires a majority of nutrients in the form of inorganic fertilizers whereas fish needs nutrients in the form of organic form.

Optimum nutrient

Hence, the optimum nutrient schedule of inorganic and organic components is required for obtaining maximum yield of rice and fish. Such fertilizer combinations also help in maintaining a healthy soil and aquatic environment.

Field experiments conducted at Central research farm of Directorate of Water Management (ICAR), Bhubaneswar revealed that the average rice equivalent yield in rice-fish farming system was estimated as 6.57 tonnes per hectare. It can be concluded y that the productivity and income could be augmented by introducing fish in rice field.

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Japan Finds Ancient Rice Grains, Estimated to Be 2,000 Years Old

Rice has been a staple food for many different cultures for thousands of years and finding tangible proof of that connection to our ancestors still thrills and amazes us.  Recently, eleven grains of ancient brown rice were found in the Akitsu archaeological site in the Nara Prefecture in Japan.
Experts believe that these grains date to the early Yayoi period and are about 2,600 to 2,400 years old.  The Yayoi period typically dates from 300 BC to AD 300 and is credited with initiating Japan’s irrigated rice cultivation.  Therefore, finding grains from this period will give scientists a closer look at how rice agriculture started and how it has evolved in Japan.
Researchers are delighted at the well-preserved condition of the grains, which were first excavated in November 2013.  It is unusual to discover rice from this period that hasn’t started carbonization, according to Kyoto University Professor Tatsuya Inamura, who announced the discovery.  The rice was sealed in mud with high water content, keeping the grains from being exposed to air and thus carbonizing.  The grains are brown and about four millimeters long and were found without husks.
Professor Inamura, an expert on plant production systems, will work closely with Nara Prefecture’s Archaeological Institute to use DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating in efforts to identify the variety of the grains as well as other pertinent information.

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