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Farmers stare at crop failure as monsoon dodges Bengal


KOLKATA:  Lack of rainfall has halted the sowing of paddy in several districts of West Bengal, leaving lakhs of people as well as the government worried about an impending drought-like situation. Official sources said, only 4.87 per cent of the target coverage of 41.81 lakh hectares has been achieved in this kharif season.

“As paddy sowing is not possible due to lack of rainfall, rural labourers are left without jobs,’’ said an agriculture department official. Several agriculture-intensive districts, like Nadia, Hooghly, East Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum, have recorded severe shortage of rainfall until now.

East Burdwan district, known as rice bowl of Bengal, has received 54 per cent less than normal rainfall, while the corresponding figures for Birbhum and Murshidabad are 69 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively. Nadia and Hooghly districts have received 58 per cent and 28 per cent less than normal rainfall, respectively.

“Besides local villagers, migrant labourers from backward regions like Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura are also sitting jobless and without income,’’ said the official.  The delay in sowing can adversely impact paddy production. “Over 84 per cent seedbeds are ready, but sowing can start only after adequate downpour,’’ another official said.