Failure of monsoon rains in the southern peninsula is likely to cause irreparable damage to the plantation crops and spices. The southwest monsoon remaining weak in most of the southern states, coupled with reports that the retreating northeast monsoon is also on the lower side in the initial few days, is a worrying scenario, experts said.
Plantation crops like pepper, cardamom, rubber, tea and coffee are highly monsoon-sensitive with production directly dependent on the timing and quantum of rain. While too much of rain damages most of the cash crops, too short a monsoon also leads to lower crop production.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) centre in Thiruvananthapuram has reported that the southwest monsoon shows a deficit of 34% from normal.
Northeast monsoon for the period of October 1 to November 2 shows a shortfall of 61%. Idukki and Wayanad districts are witnessed a shortfall of 31% and 59%, respectively, for the southwest monsoon.
Karnataka is seen short by 14 % with some districts like Kodagu, which have large plantations, lower by 31 % during the southwest monsoon. Northeast monsoon so far is seen lower by 7%.
According to IMD data, Tamil Nadu, which is more dependent on the retreating monsoon, is short by 63 % and Puducherry by 81 % till November 2.
The northeast monsoon season is the major period of rainfall activity over the southern peninsula, particularly in the eastern half comprising of the meteorological subdivisions of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and Tamil Nadu-Puducherry.
For Tamil Nadu this is the main rainy season accounting for about 48% of the annual rainfall.
The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) Commodities head R Sanjith told FE that tea and coffee are already under stress due to lower rains and the impact in other crops would only be known in the long run.
“There is a huge deficit in tea production in south India due to erratic weather pattern and reports suggest that coffee production will also be lower in the coming crop season.
Pepper is a crop that is more sensitive to rain and likely to impacted,” he added.