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First signs of drought visible; top officials to meet

July 12, 2004 19:10 IST
Last Updated: July 12, 2004 19:27 IST

The undue delay in onset of rains in north India, uncertain fate of monsoon and sowing of crops lagging behind schedule has become a cause of concern for the government with the cabinet secretary likely to take stock of the situation shortly.

"We cannot jump into conclusions, but with more than two weeks of delay in monsoon, early signs of drought are visible. Cabinet Secretary will take a meeting of all the concerned secretaries to review the situation," official sources told PTI.

They said a number of intra-ministry meetings have also been taken by Union Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to
monitor the farm scenario and take all the necessary steps that are warranted.

Area covered by sowing in most crops including sugarcane, rice and oilseeds is behind schedule, many farmers have begun
to replough the fields in absence or shortage of water and  condition of the sown crop is "not good", they added.

While paddy acreage in Uttar Pradesh is expected to fall short of earlier target by 80,000 hectares, all the major oilseed producing states too are expecting a fall in yield and output, they pointed out.

Area covered so far in oilseeds was 50.6 lakh hectares, nearly a million hectares lesser than 59.56 lakh hectares in the corresponding period last year.

The more worrying part is that nearly one-third of the area under oilseeds is yet to be sown with bulk of the sowing originally scheduled for July, thus making rains critical.

Punjab-Haryana belt, India's grain bowl has hardly received any monsoon rains, they said.

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