Shillong, Aug 12 IANS | 2 months ago

Meghalaya is facing a drought-like situation -- and paddy fields in the state, having no use, are fast becoming football grounds, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Tuesday.


The state was facing a rainfall deficit between 20 and 59 percent, he said.

"The current drought-like situation is a cause for concern. I saw paddy fields having turned into football grounds while travelling to places like Rongjeng and Kharkutta (in the East Garo Hills)," he told journalists here.

Efforts are being made to provide interim relief to the affected families, he said.

Sangma said the government has adopted several measures to tackle the situation.

"The agriculture department and its allied departments have been tasked to assess the situation. Officials have already been deputed across all 11 districts to make an assessment to enable the government to work out solutions," he said.

The chief minister said he would take up the drought issue with the central government, and seek interim relief.

"Climate change is the main factor for this situation. We will draw a comprehensive plan to ensure food security," Sangma said.

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research has exhorted the farming community in Meghalaya to adopt "climate-smart" measures.

"The entire northeast, barring a few districts, experienced severe water problem in June and July, because of scarce precipitation as a result of climate change, that is posing a threat to agricultural production," S.V. Ngachan, director at the ICAR Research Complex in Umiam, told IANS.

Ngachan suggested that farmers go for irrigation through water sources like streams, community ponds, wells or any stored water (jalkund), and conservation of soil moisture through mulching with locally available biomass, applying foliar spray, weeding in crops and planting short-duration rice varieties.

(Posted on 12-08-2014)

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