India is likely to witness a normal monsoon across the country in 2015, but rainfall in some pockets might be deficient, says a study.
According to the Assocham-Skymet Weather joint report, the damage to Rabi crop due to unseasonal rains shall continue and a major spell of rainfall is expected next month in North India, especially in the first week of April.
“Forecast of normal Monsoon this year seems distributed uniformly throughout the country. However, some pockets that might be deficient (by a narrow margin) include Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Marathwada, Rayalseema, South Interior Karnataka, North Tamil Nadu and parts of the North East,” the report said.
The agriculture sector, which contributes about 15 per cent to the country’s GDP but employs more than 50 per cent of the population, is highly dependent on monsoon rains as about 60 per cent of the cultivable area is rain-fed.
“The chance of a back-to-back drought is three per cent (2014 was a mild meteorological drought). Besides, there is still no clear signal about the emergence of an Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) this year during Monsoon,” Skymet CEO Jatin Singh said.
Last year, India faced 12 per cent deficient rainfall last year at the end of the four-month-long south-west monsoon season, which begins with onset of rains in Kerala, usually on June 1 and ends on September 30.
According to government estimates, country’s foodgrain production is expected to decline by 3.2 per cent to 257.07 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from the record 265.57 million tonnes in 2013-14.
On the unseasonal rains this month, the study said: “More wet weather was in the offing in April and the damage to the Rabi crop would continue. A major rainfall spell is expected in the first week of April in North India.”
Unseasonal rains this month have destroyed standing rabi crop in various states across the country and has led to the opposition demanding a relief package from the government.
Last week, Minister of State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kundaria had told Rajya Sabha that unseasonal rains and hailstorms in various parts during March have “adversely affected” the production of Rabi crops.
Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have affected crops in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
Wheat, mustard and gram are the major Rabi (winter-sown) crops.