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Drought in MP: Improved irrigation and weather alert systems can reduce crop damage

04:16 AM Sep 10, 2023 IST | Sanavver Shafi
drought in mp  improved irrigation and weather alert systems can reduce crop damage

"Sir, you can see the damage for yourself. The withered crops in the scattered fields bear witness to the devastation I have faced."

Farmer Kuber Singh, while showcasing his arid paddy field, remarks,


Farmer Kuber Singh had sown paddy crop in his 10-acre field in Mengrakala village of Berasia, 30 km from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Now, the crop is completely destroyed due to lack of rain. Kuber Singh says in despair,

“Neither the weather nor the government is supporting us. Due to unseasonal heat and lack of rain at the beginning of August, the entire paddy crop got damaged. Also, due to the heat, even the maize crop started ripening quickly. To save the maize, it is necessary to maintain moisture in the fields, that is why we are doing extra irrigation and praying to God for rain.”


“The government is claiming to provide 10 hours of electricity to the farmers, but we are getting it only for four to six hours. This electricity is not enough to save our crop.”


A similar situation is starkly visible in the villages of Sanchi, Garatganj, and Begumganj tehsils of the Raisen district as the area lacks any major irrigation projects.


There was a lack of rain in the month of August due to El Nino being effective, due to which Kharif crops (soybean, paddy, maize, jowar, oilseeds and pulses) have been damaged in more than 25 districts of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan mentioned that the state has not seen such a drought in the last 50 years.

Cracks in paddy fields, village Mohaniyakhedi, district Raisen
Cracks in paddy fields, village Mohaniyakhedi, district Raisen

CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan said in the emergency review meeting that

“In the drought-affected districts, collectors have been instructed to conduct a survey, assess the damage and submit a report. Farmers need not panic, instructions have been given to release water from the dam into rivers and canals for irrigation. Also, if necessary, a survey of crops will be conducted and crop insurance amount will be given along with compensation.”

Vipul of Bavdikheda village in Dewas district says, “It rained only for 10 days in the month of August. Short-duration variety of soybean had pods which have dried up and where long-duration soybean was sown, the flower dried up and fell due to heat. The situation is the same in all the villages around here. Many farmers have even driven plough in their fields because there is no hope now.”

Nilesh shows us the soybean plant grown in his field at Rolgaon in Sehore district and says that

“Due to lack of rain, there has been a severe infestation of pests on the plants. We have sprayed the pesticide three times but It is not effective. Leave the profit from the crop, we are going to be at a loss due to the increase in cost.”

Could crops have been saved by alerting farmers on time?

Ganpat Dodiya, who grows soybean and other kharif crops (pulses and oilseeds) on 22 acres in Mengrakalan, says, “If we had known about the change in weather earlier, we could have minimized the damage by irrigating our fields.” 

Rajendra Ravi's sister from the same village was going to get married after four months. Had the crop been good, he would have married his sister with great pomp, but now he will either have to take a loan or postpone the wedding date. Supporting Ganpat Dodiya's point, Rajendra says

“Before COVID-19 we used to get weather alerts and information via SMS or call from the agriculture department but now it has stopped. We did complain about this on the CM helpline but no action has been taken.”

Timely advice from scientists and farmers took less loss

There are many farmers in Kolukhedi village, which comes under Berasia block of Bhopal District Panchayat, who got timely advice issued by the scientists of the Agriculture and Meteorological Department through mobile phones. Farmers have benefited from this, and based on this information, farmers have been helped to reduce their losses. Kolukhedi farmer Munshilal says that

“Since the rabi season, we were getting the advice of scientists through calls on mobile, Following the advice of the scientists, we sowed pulses and soybean on our 7 acres of land ahead of time. We also did additional irrigation to maintain the moisture in the fields. This benefited us that when the unseasonal heat set in in the month of August, our crop was ripe and ready by then. Now we are preparing for harvesting.”

Dozens of farmers including Premlal, Deepak Kushwaha, and Dilip Malviya of Kolukhedi village seem to agree with Munshilal.

BL Bilaiya, Joint Director in charge of the Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Development Department, says

“It is not that farmers are not being informed about climate change. Information is being sent to the farmers through various means such as phone calls, SMS, and mobile apps, and awareness camps are being organized to make the farmers aware. If information is not reaching the farmers on time, we will get the data of our software updated again and try to increase the number of awareness camps.”

Dry soybean in the fields, village Bavdikheda district Dewas
Dry soybean in the fields, village Bavdikheda district Dewas

Scientist of Central Agricultural Engineering Institute, Bhopal Dr. BM Nandere says that efforts are being made to make farmers aware along with providing information through Doordarshan, mobile calls, messages and awareness camps. At present awareness camps have been organized in rural areas of Vidisha district on 15th June and 12th August only. During this camp, efforts have been made to make farmers aware by giving information about crops like wheat, gram mustard etc. in the coming season.

Questioning the ground realities, Devendra Singh Dangi, President, Berasia Tehsil of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, says

“The department claims that they are making farmers aware by phone calls, messages and organizing camps, but the efforts of the department are seen to be negligible on the ground.”

soyabean crop destroyed in madhya pradesh

Will it rain in September?

According to the Meteorological Department, Madhya Pradesh has received 17% less rainfall than the average since June 1. There was a pause in the rains in the month of August, while less rain is expected in September. If the predictions by the Meteorological department are correct then all the Kharif crops including paddy and soybean will be severely impacted. 

Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Development Department, In-charge Joint Director BL Bilaiya says that

“Right now there is not much concern regarding the crops, but if the water does not fall in September like in the month of August, then the trouble will increase and the crops will suffer a lot. Especially the land where there is no black soil. Whether it is light soil or stony soil, adverse effects are being seen on soybeans and other crops. In such situations, we are contacting the farmers. We have advised the farmers to water the crops through sprinkler irrigation. Where there is black soil, there is nothing to worry about at present, but if there is no good rain in the next week, the situation will worsen and production will be affected. Presently the flower is in the stage of becoming a pod. There is a big concern in this stage because, in such a situation, we get to see the decline in production and the situation of loss.”

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