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West Bengal may suffer substantial crop shortfall

Special Correspondent

Kolkata: West Bengal may suffer a substantial crop shortfall in 2010-11 due to an acute paucity of water triggered by drought in eleven districts.

Talking to reporters after a high-level meeting at the State Secretariat on Thursday, Agriculture Minister Naren De said that against a normal of 14.5 lakh acres only about 5.5 lakh acres could be cultivated in the State during the aman and the boro seasons.

West Bengal, the largest paddy growing State in the country, expects to harvest a crop of about 120 lakh tons against an average of 148 lakh tons. Its own requirement is about 138 lakhs and procurements would be made from other States, he said.

The minister said that to protect farmers' livelihoods, emphasis is now being placed on alternative crops and farmers were being given seeds of moong, and edible oils like groundnut and mustard.

Irrigation Minister Subhas Naskar, who also attended the meeting, said that in the boro season only about fifty per cent of the land could be cultivated. He said that the State was keen to buy water from its neighbours but they would be in position do so only if they had any in excess after meeting their needs.

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