Govt says Monsoon forecast not alarming yet

PTI Posted online: Saturday, Jun 14, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram today said the forecast of below normal monsoon is not "alarming" as of now but the government is keeping a watch.

He said the country has strong foodgrain reserves to tackle any shortfall in production due to erratic rains.

"The Met Department prediction shows a little less rain than average. It is not alarming at this point of time but we have to watch. We believe that we have a very strong reserves position," Mayaram told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

According to official data, state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) held a stock of 41.6 million tonnes of wheat and 11.4 million tonnes of paddy till June.

There are growing expectation of below normal monsoon due to the El Nino effect this year, affecting agriculture production and is also likely to impact food prices.

On June 9, the Met Department in its revised forecast, has predicted monsoon to be below normal at 93 per cent from 95 per cent of the long-term average.

Monsoon is expected to be deficit in north-western parts of the country.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed a contingency plan for 500 districts to mitigate the possibility of poor rains with his Cabinet colleagues.

Last week, the Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth had called a meeting of a group of bureaucrats to discuss food prices situation in the backdrop of Met Department's forecast on monsoon.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry is working on relief measures such as providing subsidy on seeds for sowing and giving incentive to buy diesel for irrigation to protect crops.