Monsoon is delayed. Western India is expected to be worst affected and drought-like situation might prevail in some pockets, Singh told reporters after a delegation from Maharashtra met him on this matter. A separate contingency plan will be worked out along with the state governments for drought-prone regions, such as Vidharbha in Maharashtra, to ensure there is no shortage of drinking water and fodder, he said.
Vidharbha region is drought-prone. We will think of all possible measures to help farmers so that they are not forced to commit suicides due to crop failure, he added.
As per the Met department, the monsoon is likely to improve after July 6, the minister said, adding, If it improves, the loss in sowing of kharif crops will definitely be compensated.
He also said the agriculture ministry will soon move a cabinet note on providing diesel and seed subsidy if states declare drought in some areas. On vegetable prices rising in anticipation of a poor monsoon, Singh said, We have to improve the supply system, though there is no shortage in onion and potato production in the country.
A delegation-led by Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadanvis updated the minister about the monsoon situation in the Vidharbha region and sought special measures to tackle the possible drought this year.
The overall area under kharif crops last week decreased to 131.52 lakh hectares from 200.96 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. Sowing of kharif (summer) crops including paddy starts with the onset of the southwest monsoon in June.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the monsoon this year is expected to be 93% of the long-term average. For the country as a whole, the cumulative rainfall up to 25 June was 40% below the average. Conditions are expected to improve in July and August.