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Uncertainty over wheat sowing looms large in Abohar villages

Prolonged waterlogging in low-lying region has increased salt concentration in the soil, making it impossible to sow rabi crop

Updated: Oct 25, 2020, 18:35 IST

By Vishal Joshi, Vishal Joshi/Bathinda

Prolonged waterlogging in low-lying region has increased salt concentration in the soil, making it impossible to sow rabi crop

BATHINDA

After widespread damage to standing cotton crop due breach in a drain in August, farmers in Abohar belt of Fazilka district are worried about sowing wheat as prolonged waterlogging in the low-lying region has increased salt concentration in the soil.

Fields in nearly 10 villages were inundated after the catchment area of the Aspal drain in Fazilka, Muktsar and Ferozepur districts witnessed heavy rainfall on August 21 and 22. Due to heavy inflow of rainwater, the drain breached its banks near the Seeto Gunno area of Abohar and it led to flooding in the adjoining areas.



Nearly 21,000 hectare land in Abohar region remained submerged for about 40 days and it led to considerable damage to kharif crops, mainly cotton.

Farmers like Sandeep Kumar of Dutarwali village said it has become a challenge to plough marshy fields. “Though water has been drained out from the fields this week, a white layer or ‘shora’ or efflorescence has surfaced all around. I doubt if wheat seeds could germinate in the fields with a high concentration of salt. It will be a serious economic setback to farmers if the existing adverse soil condition does not allow wheat sowing,” he said.

Punjab Agricultural University has advised commencing wheat sowing after October 25.

Nirmal Singh of Raipura rues lack of much support from the state authorities. “My cotton crop on six acres was completely damaged while it is impossible to harvest paddy on other four acres land as the machines cannot enter the wet fields. Since fields in Raipura and Sardarpura were filled with water, there is no scope to sow wheat. Four families pooled nearly Rs 2 lakh to dewater our 50 acres land and we have left with no resource for the next season after complete loss of kharif crops,” he added.

Another farmer, Kulwant Bishnoi, suffered an estimated loss of Rs 25 lakh after cotton and rice on 52 acre land was submerged.

“As the groundwater table is very high in the area, it is unlikely that fields will get any respite in the next few days. Traditionally, wheat sowing in the semi-arid belt begins in the first week of November and we are keeping fingers crossed for the season ahead,” he said.

Dutarwali sarpanch Surinder Kumar Bishnoi said 2,200-acre farm area in their village was almost submerged for 40 days.

“The drain had caused havoc in the area earlier also but the authorities concerned did not come forward with a solution. As the government provided ample support to drain out water, it should now release compensation to the affected farmers without any delay,” he said.

Fazilka agriculture officer Sarwan Singh said farmers in a sizeable area may be unable to sow wheat due to adverse conditions while a large area may witness late sowing if the situation improves in the next week three weeks.

From the coming week, the department experts will start issuing wheat sowing advisory on the basis of soil and water testing of the affected areas, he added.

“Our field assessment said 17,000-hectare cotton area and nearly 4,500 hectares under paddy cultivation was affected. The revenue department is undertaking ‘girdwari’ of the affected area,” he said.

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