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Monsoon picks up, but almost half of India is deficient

Last updated on: July 11, 2012 13:34 IST

Monsoon picks up, but almost half of India deficient

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Sanjeeb Mukherjee in New Delhi

The southwest monsoon has picked up pace, and is now on the verge of covering almost the entire country.

However, going by the deficiency in rainfall so far, there is a long way to go before the monsoon can be called normal.

What is worrying agriculture scientists and policy makers are long breaks in the rainfall.

At this stage, they can cause immense harm.

For, most farmers have either started planting the kharif crops or made alternative strategies to counter the delayed rains. "Uneven rainfall distribution after a delayed start could cause a big problem to crop yields and final output," a senior official said.

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Monsoon picks up, but almost half of India is deficient

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Latest data from the India Meteorological Department show the monsoon performance till the first week of this month was the worst in recent years, barring 2009.

Till July 4, rains were almost 30 per cent below normal, while the percentage was 49 in the corresponding period of 2009.

The total normal rainfall for the entire monsoon season in the country is 890 millimeters .

In 2009-10, agriculture production grew just 0.7 per cent as the country registered below 23 per cent below normal rainfall during June-September, leading to one of its worst droughts in 30 years.

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Monsoon picks up, but almost half of India is deficient

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Along with the allied sectors, India then clocked an expansion of one per cent, while the corresponding percentage for 2011-12 was 2.8.

The 2009-10 drought dealt a severe blow to paddy (production down nine per cent at 89.09 million tonnes year-on-year), coarse cereals (16 per cent at 33.55 mt) and oilseeds (10 per cent at 288 mt).

This time, the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices is worried about the same set of crops, plus pulses and cotton.

"Rains in the next 10-15 days will be extremely crucial to ensure a healthy farm growth," CACP chairman Ashok Gulati told Business Standard.

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Till Monday, the distribution of rainfall across the country, though better than the previous week,

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Till Monday, the distribution of rainfall across the country, though better than the previous week, was still within the danger zone.

Rain in the country's northwest was 42 per cent below normal since June 1, while the dip in percentage in central and southern India was 25 and 30, respectively.

Overall, more than half the total country had received deficient rains till Monday.

"The central, northwest and southern India are where you grow the bulk of oilseeds, pulses, coarse cereals, cotton and paddy during the kharif season," the official noted.

The fear, he added, was not of widespread drought, but the difficulty in monitoring pockets of below-average rainfall.

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Monsoon picks up, but almost half of India is deficient

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The position was 'comfortable' on grains and cereals, Gulati said. "My biggest worry is about pulses.

For, the possibility of imports in case of a domestic shortfall is very limited, as the global market of pulses is extremely thin," he added.

For every 10 per cent drop in domestic production, retail prices 'can rise' by around 30-40 per cent.

The southwest monsoon is crucial for Indian agriculture as around 55 per cent of total arable land in the country do not have proper irrigation facilities.

 

 



Tags: Gulati , India

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