August 28, 2010

West Bengal kharif paddy production expected to fall 16%

25 Aug, 2010, 06.11PM IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Paddy production in drought- affected West Bengal is likely to fall by over 16 per cent during the current kharif season to 87 lakh tonnes.

The state produced 104 lakh tonnes of paddy in the last season. The state government has already announced drought in 11 districts (out of 19), including Burdwan, called as the rice bowl of the state, due to scanty rains in the ongoing monsoon season. "The production of paddy in the state is likely to be 17 lakh tonnes less than the last kharif season," West Bengal's agriculture minister Naren Dey told PTI over phone.

Dey said that sowing is also expected to come down to around 30 lakh hectares from 41.5 lakh hectares in the last kharif season. "Before the beginning of the current kharif season, we had targeted paddy sowing on 43.79 lakh hectares as against 41.5 lakh hectares of area in the last season. However, owing to scanty rains, paddy can be sown on around 30 lakh hectares only," Dey said.

West Bengal's rice produce has been estimated at around 149 lakh tonnes for 2009-10 crop season, ending June. The paddy-rice conversion rate is 67 per cent.

The truant monsoon has not only affected West Bengal, it has impacted rice sowing in other eastern states like Bihar and Jharkhand. The Bihar government has already announced all 38 districts as drought-affected while Jharkhand has declared drought in 12 districts out of 24.

The dip in output in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, however, would not have much impact on the country's overall paddy production in the ongoing kharif season as sowing area has increased in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh among other northern states. As per the latest data available, area under paddy has increased by seven per cent as on August 20 in the ongoing 2010-11 kharif sowing season to 29.75 million hectares on the back of a good monsoon. The higher area under paddy augurs well for the country, as rice output had declined by 10 million tonnes in the 2009- 10 crop year (July-June) due to the severe drought in 2009.

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