Drought will slash Bihar's corn, rice output: Nitish Kumar

Underlining the fact that this year's deficient monsoon could have serious repercussions, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today said that maize and rice output in the state may be 75 per cent below average this year because of poor monsoon rains.

Maize or corn is Bihar's top crop, with rice as another major agricultural product.

Kumar said this year corn could be sown in only 40 per cent of the normal 350,000 hectares. Rice was similarly affected, he told reporters in Patna after meeting agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Twenty-six of Bihar's 38 districts have already been declared drought-hit, affecting more than 1.26 crore people. In his Independence Day speech on 15 August, Kumar had vowed that he would not allow anyone to die of hunger due to the drought, and would declare more districts drought-hit if the conditions did not improve in those districts in next few days.

Kumar said that he has asked the union government for Rs23,000 crore to tackle drought in Bihar. ''We have asked for an emergency relief fund that would allow us to weather this drought for 90 days. Hopefully, by then we would emerge from the dry conditions, but in the event things get worse, we will have no choice to seek more funding from the central government," he Kumar said.

Farmers in Bihar, perhaps India's poorest state, have taken to arms to protect their water sources, according to an IBN report. As water sources dry up, farmers seek to divert the little remaining canal water towards their fields, leading to friction and a return to the rule of the jungle in a land where there are no forests left worth the name.