Farmers said the infected fields have these stunted plants growing alongside normal ones. This comes at a time when the area under paddy cultivation this kharif season was down 13% YoY in the week ended August 5.
Apart from the fall in the rice acreage this year due to the poor rains in major paddy-growing states, the farmers have another worry. Farmers in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttarakhand as well as western Uttar Pradesh have reported a mysterious “dwarfing” disease of paddy, which leads to stunting of plants. Agricultural scientists are yet to identify the disease, according to an Indian Express report.
According to the farmers, the infected fields have these plants growing alongside those with normal height and regular growth.
Twenty-six-year-old farmer Rajinder Singh from Darsopur village in Punjab’s Pathankot said that he had transplanted ‘PR-121’ and ‘PR-113’ paddy varieties on his land between June 22- 25. There was uniform growth of all plants in the first 30-35 days, after which some stopped growing.
“About 40 percent of the plants in my PR-113 fields (3.5 acres) haven’t grown at all after 35 days, with this at 70 percent for the PR-121 variety (5.5 acres),” Singh told the newspaper.
Basmati paddy grower Pritam Hanjra from Urlana Khurd village in Haryana’s Panipat alerted scientists at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, after noticing the same problem in a fellow farmer’s field on July 4. Hanjra also faced the same problem with his Pusa Basmati-6 variety, which he transplanted on June 20, the report added.
According to the report, scientists from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute have collected plant samples after visiting the farmers’ fields in Punjab and Haryana to study the severity of dwarfing. The samples have been sent for DNA sequencing, with which the scientists plan to identify the cause of the problems.
This mysterious dwarfing disease comes at a time when the area under paddy in this kharif season was down by almost 13 percent in the week ended August 5 compared with the same period last year.
Last year, India produced over 111 million tonnes (MT) of rice in the kharif season. This year farmers fear that a 10-12 MT drop in final output, Business Standard reported.
The fall comes on the back of woefully short spells of rains in major paddy-growing states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha. These five states together account for over 40 percent of India’s total annual rice production, estimated to be over 120 MT.