The southwest monsoon deficit on Friday rose to 15% of the benchmark long period average (LPA) from 14% reported a week ago.
However, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rainfall across Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Northeastern states in the next couple of days which is expected to bring down the overall deficit in rainfall so far.
Besides, private weather forecaster Skymet has predicted a cyclonic circulation developing over North Arabian Sea off Gujarat and Maharashtra coast due to which scattered light to moderate rain is expected over Gujarat region during the next 2 to 3 days.
Meanwhile, kharif sowing activity has been completed, with the area under various summer-sown crops going up by 1.7%until Friday from a year before, showed the agriculture ministry data.
Following the reports of ‘reasonably good sowing’, finance minister Arun Jaitley expressed confidence that the country’s food production this year would be much more than last year’s despite less than normal rainfall.
“Information that has come is that sowing has been reasonably good and therefore the food production would be much more than last year,” Jaitley said at a function in Kollam.
Barring a near 8% fall in areas under cotton, the coverage of all other major crops such as paddy, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds witnessed a rise, albeit marginal in most cases. The total areas under the kharif crops touched 1,012.01 lakh hectares until Friday, compared with 994.4 lakh hectares a year before.
A senior scientist with Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), a premier institute under the agriculture ministry, has forecast a dip in kharif production from the record level of 2013-14, if not from the level recorded in 2014-15 — when monsoon deficit was as high as 12%. In 2014-15, the kharif grain production dropped to 126.31 million tonne from 128.69 million tonne a year before.
However, with the government holding grain stocks almost twice the requirement and inflation keeping low, analysts don’t see any irrational spiralling of food inflation this year.
The IMD last month retained its earlier forecast of a deficient monsoon season (June-September) for 2015, with rainfall at 88% of the LPA, the same as last year. LPA is calculated on the basis of annual rainfall recorded in 1951-2000 (89 cm).