With an around 35% deficiency in the monsoon so far, the agriculture ministry has prepared a contingency plan that focuses on alternative or short-duration crops in the states receiving scanty rain.
The contingency plan will be mainly for states such as Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, according to official sources.
The plan, prepared by by Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) under the agriculture ministry, doesnt include any change in the cropping pattern for the key paddy growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, where monsoon rainfall had been adequate so far.
Besides, the agriculture ministry would soon ask the rural development ministry to speed up work taken up under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) so that small and marginal farmers who have not been able to take up agriculture activities due to deficient rain get employment.
Sources said farmers in Bihar have been urged to avoid long-duration (145 days) rice varieties and, instead, go for medium-duration varieties (120 days) for dealing with 36% deficiency in rainfall in June.
For Rajasthan, where rainfall has been 72% less than normal, the agriculture ministry has advised farmers to avoid sowing of maize and sorghum while recommending cultivation of pulses and sesame which require less water.
In its advisory for Gujarat, ICAR has suggested farmers to refrain from sowing groundnut or any other long-duration corp and, in case of delay in monsoon beyond middle July, to go for cluster bean, sesame and green gram. In the rain-deficient southern Karnataka, medium-duration pigeon pea varieties, instead of long-duration ones, are suggested,
With the progress of the monsoon, we will be periodically updating our advisories for the farmers about the crop pattern, B Venkateswarlu, director, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), a Hyderabad-based body under ICAR told FE.
CRIDA had been assigned the task of coordinating the preparation of district-level disaster management plan for each of the 600-odd districts.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday stated that south-western monsoon has advanced into many parts of north Arabian Sea, Gujarat, remaining parts of Maharashtra and some more parts of Madhya Pradesh.
Rain or thundershowers would occur at many places over west coast, Northeastern states, Vidarbha, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Rain and thundershowers would occur at many places over Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada during next 48 hours, IMD said in its prediction.
The total cumulative rainfall in the current south-western monsoon till Thursday had been 137.8 mm against a normal monsoon rain of 197.7 mm. The worst-affected areas have been Northwestern regions comprising Rajasthan, UP, Punjab and Haryana where rainfall has been 71% less than normal.