By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, September 2, 2021: Drought is once again staring at Odisha following deficient rain fall in 213 of the 314 districts. This will be eighth drought year in the last two decades.

“Odisha has experienced drought 8 times in the last 20 years. Of 6.196 million hectares of farmlands that we targeted, farmers have been able to grow various crops in 5.763 million hectares due to lack of adequate rainwater. But we are prepared to tackle a possible drought,” agriculture minister Arun Sahoo Sahoo said in ongoing monsoon session of the Assembly while replying to an adjournment motion.

Till September 1, the state recorded only 666 mm of rainfall, which is 29 % less than normal and 26 of 30 districts in the state barring have recorded deficient rainfall of 20% or above. Jajpur was the worst affected with 54% less rainfall. Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Koraput and Malkangiri districts had normal rainfall. The paddy crop, the major one cultivated by farmers, was affected due to the prolonged dry spell. However, non-paddy crop might not be affected.

Drought in Odisha, which generally occurs during Kharif season, is harmful mainly to the paddy crops. Bolangir, Bargarh, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Phulbani districts have been identified as drought prone area in the state.

Meanwhile, the state government is gearing up with an action plan to face the looming drought. Sahoo also told the Assembly that contingency plans were being implemented to help farmers, following deficient rainfall in 213 of the 314 blocks in Odisha this monsoon. The pump sets for irrigation have been ordered for areas with low rainfall and the district magistrates (DMs) have been instructed to keep a close eye on the situation, he added.

The government’s contingency plan includes water supply through canals, distribution of seeds and mini-kits for vegetable farming. Besides, emphasis has been given to the execution of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme works to ensure continued means of sustenance.

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