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Monsoon may still spell drought
Surinder Sud in New Delhi | July 15, 2004 11:13 IST
Even if the monsoon revives in the next couple of days, as indicated by the India Meteorological Department, the area under some key crops may drop significantly though it will help ward off drought.
But, if sufficient rains are not received till July 20, vast tracts of the country, notably the north-western region, will slip into the grip of drought, agriculture experts maintain.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has already advised farmers to avoid planting long-duration varieties of rice. Instead, they should go in for early maturing varieties, in case sufficient water is available in the next few days.
After that period, sowing of rice in the northern belt is being ruled out as the farmers would have to go in for alternative crops like coarse cereals, pulses and fodder.
"The time for planting of bajra, the main crop of the arid belt of Rajasthan is already running out. If there are no rains by July 20, it will not be possible to raise bajra crop for grains; it can be grown as fodder if some soil moisture is available", said Jodhpur-based Central Arid Zone Research Institute director Pratap Narain in an exclusive talk with the Business Standard.
Another agricultural scientist, Hyderabad-based Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) director Y S Ramakrishna also expressed a similar viewpoint.
"Though it may be premature to declare the present situation as drought, some crop loss has already taken place", he said. The sowing was lagging far behind normal in all the areas that had received deficient rainfall so far and it would be difficult to make up for the time loss.
"However, an early revival of the monsoon could facilitate sowing of crops that require less time to mature", Ramakrishna said. In many areas, such as the Vidharba region of Maharashtra, whatever crops could be planted were now showing signs of moisture stress, he said.
The weather man is indicating a revival of the monsoon in several areas, including Telengana, Rayalaseema, Vidharba and central India. In fact, some rainfall has already occurred in Rayalaseema, Telengana, Vidharba and some other rain deficient areas.
However, the forecast for the north-western region, including Rajasthan, is not as rosy. These areas are only expected to get scattered showers in the next few days. The monsoon is yet to advance further in this region.
Rajasthan is already facing a drought-like situation with hardly any crop cover so far. Though some rains received in early June had facilitated preparation of land for sowing, actual seed planting could not take place for want of moisture. "Even grasses have not sprouted, posing the danger of fodder scarcity," Narain said.
CAZRI has, however, prepared contingency plans for the delayed monsoon, indicating the crops and varieties that can be grown, depending on the time of availability of adequate soil moisture.In the case of an inordinate delay, cultivation of only some hardy pulses, grasses and fodder may be possible.