Cyclone Vardah brings much-needed rains; to boost rice sowing

The severe cyclonic storm Vardah has brought much-needed rains in water-stressed areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and will boost rice sowing, Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said on Tuesday.

He also said that duty-free wheat import will not impact sowing as in India state-run FCI will procure it at MSP and protect farmers’ interest.

Last week, the government had brought down import duty on wheat to zero from 15% to boost domestic supplies and control rising prices.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the Centre’s nodal agency involved in procurement and distribution of foodgrains.

“The decision (to scrap wheat import duty) has been taken by the government taking into account the entire situation prevailing in the country. It will not impact sowing. It will not affect farmers as wheat is normally purchased by the FCI,” Pattanayak told PTI.

Rice sowing has been lagging behind in the ongoing rabi season in parts of southern states, bringing down the country’s total paddy acreage to 8 lakh hectares till last week of the rabi season from 10.98 lakh hectares in the same period last year, according to official data.

“We have got reports from Andhra Pradesh government this morning. In fact, the cyclone has brought rains and has helped farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Water has come and rice sowing, which was slow, is picking up,” Pattanayak said.

The impact on agriculture in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka still needs to be assessed. “We have not got any report as of now. It will be very beneficial out there also,” he said.

In its latest release, the Met Department said some parts of Kancheepuram, Vellore, Tiruvallur, Salem, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu received rainfall.

In coastal Andhra Pradesh, parts fo Nellore and Prakasam received heavy rains, it added.

For next 12 hours, the Met has issued a “warning” that it is “very likely” that there will be rainfall at many places with isolated heavy falls over north interior Tamil Nadu and adjoining areas of south interior Karnataka and north Kerala.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Deputy Director General J S Sandhu said the cyclone has brought some relief to farmers in water-stressed pockets of coastal areas in Chennai News. This will benefit rice sowing operation.

The three states contribute about 30% of rice to the country’s total production of 104.32 million tonnes achieved in 2015-16 crop year (July-June).

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