Using field survey data, the paper examines the seasonal variation of irrigation facilities for cultivation of paddy with special emphasis on summer paddy in Assam. Paddy is cultivated in three seasons - autumn, winter and summer. In terms of acreage and production, winter rice has traditionally been the most dominant. However, the acreage shares of winter and autumn rice in total rice area have been declining continuously over the years. On the contrary, the importance of summer rice has been increasing in terms of acreage share and yield mainly since the last few decades. This trend has opened up a debate whether the summer season, being a flood free season, can be made an important cropping season. Many farmers have adopted the risk aversion strategy of not using costly inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, improved seeds, etc. during kharif season for the fear that excess rainwater and floods would wash away. Field reports show that the availability/arrival of short duration new paddy varieties has enabled the farmers to adjust crop seasons and cultivate paddy in the three seasons of the year. While summer is a new emerging season for paddy cultivation, farmers face problems of scarcity of irrigation water due to scanty rainfall. Only those farmers were found cultivating summer paddy, whose plots had access to naturally flowing water ways and who can afford artificial means of irrigation through borewells and pumpsets. Therefore, the future plans on the development of irrigation potentials should give emphasis on the development of groundwater based on installation of shallow tubewells and borewells, construction of small dams on the naturally flowing water ways, harvesting of rainwater during rainy season and also on controlling of floods for water management.


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