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Govt calm over delayed monsoon impact
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi | July 21, 2004 09:49 IST
A meeting called by Cabinet Secretary BK Chaturvedi on monsoon preparedness ended on Tuesday without too much worry in government circles on the impact of a delayed monsoon.
But Members of Parliament who have farming interests said the forthcoming months were going to see acute starvation and misery in the usually affluent countryside like Haryana because farmers had no cash to buy essential agricultural inputs like diesel, adds our Political Bureau.
Several secretaries in the Government of India, including agriculture and food, attended the meeting and the consensus was that though rainfall had been deficient in some parts of India, agricultural yield and procurement was not likely to be significantly affected.
The lack of rain in Punjab, Haryana and western UP is a problem, but because all these areas are highly irrigated, ground water and other sources of irrigation are unlikely to affect the Kharif crop, sources who attended the meeting said.
However, an MP from Haryana said that in large parts of Haryana, farmers were already indebted to traders and middlemen for loans, which were paid in kind -- in diesel for pumpsets, fertilisers, etc. Most farmers had taken loans against these inputs and were, in turn, reselling them in the market to raise cash, so desperate was the situation.
"There is no doubt that the government will have to raise the Minimum Support Price for this crop, because raising the crop will become costlier (on account of irrigation which will have to be done using pumpsets) due to the failure of rain. But even after that, how much surplus the farmers will have to sell is an open question" the MP said.
In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, rains have been as expected.The Food Corporation of India, which is the primary procurement agency for the government is not expecting shortfall in procurement just yet, FCI sources said.