Inadequate rainfall not to dent farm output

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 26 2009, 05:56am hrs
A day after India Meteorological Department (IMD)s projection that the monsoon would be below normal this year, agriculture ministry on Thursday stated that the shortfall in rain in the month of June would not adversely impact the countrys food production.

Union agriculture secretary T Nanda Kumar said the country did manage to produce a record 230 million tonne of foodgrains last year despite 17% less rainfall in the month of July.

Slight delay in the rainfall in central and southern parts of the country should not be viewed in any way as an drought year and the food production would not be lower than last year, Kumar said.

Kumar held a meeting with agriculture secretaries from states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh which have not received adequate rainfall till now on the contingency plan in the case of a possible failure of monsoon. He said that ministry would again take stock of the situation in the middle of July.

On the IMDs forecast of deficit rainfall in the north-western regions including key food producing states including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Kumar said these states mostly have high percentage of irrigation ranging from 80-90%. This areas may still have a very good production with well distributed rainfall, he said. This optimism by the agriculture ministry was backed by the feed back it got from officials from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that due to good rains the sowing for Kharif crop is in full swing and there has been rains in large parts of Gujarat and some drought prone districts of Andhra Pradesh.

"There is no cause of worry if monsoon arrives by June-end. The States have been assured that there is enough seed availability to meet the demand in case short-duration seed is required," a senior official in the Agriculture Ministry said after the meeting. Scientists are hopeful that the situation would not deteriorate if the rains come in a week, he added.

Meanwhile, the central government also assured the states of of adequate availability of short-duration seeds that may be required in the case of further delay in monsoon. Around hald of the country 140 million hectare of agricultural land is rainfed. The major kharif crops are paddy, jowar, bajra, maize, cotton, groundnut, soyabean, arhar, urad, moong and sugarcane.