In an unusual scenario, water reserves across northern, eastern, western, central and southern regions this year have exceeded the level witnessed at the same time last year as well as the normal 10-year average (See the chart).
Huge disparity in seasonal showers despite a sharp turnaround in rainfall half way through the June-September monsoon season and consequent floods in certain states may have weighed on the Kharif crops but swelling water reservoirs will likely brighten farm prospects in the upcoming Rabi season.
In an unusual scenario, water reserves across northern, eastern, western, central and southern regions this year have exceeded the level witnessed at the same time last year as well as the normal 10-year average (See the chart). This will help boost the Rabi crop sowing, which will start in the coming weeks, on time. Of course, other aspects like temperature in winter (especially for crops like wheat) will also play a vital role in farm production. The government, which is battling a slowdown in manufacturing as well as key services, is desperately hoping for a recovery in the agriculture sector to prop up the overall GDP growth.
Expansion in gross value added in the farm and allied sector had plunged to 2.9% in FY19 from 5% in the previous year. The massive downpours over the past few weeks, however, have caused damages to the standing Kharif crops in certain producing regions of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar and will likely weigh on the government’s recently-released farm production estimates, although a precise estimate of the losses is still being firmed up by the states. As such, the agriculture ministry recently projected a marginal fall in grains production at 140.57 million tonne in the kharif season of 2019-20 on a likely drop in rice and pulses output. Already, Madhya Pradesh has sought central government assistance of Rs 9,000 crore to compensate farmers for their losses.
India witnessed its best monsoon year (in terms of quantum of shower) in 25 years in 2019, with the rainfall having witnessed an unprecedented catch-up — from a deficit of as much as 36% at the end of June to a surplus of 10% as of October 3. In fact, for the first time in five years, monsoon showers crossed the long-period average (LPA). But uneven spread—while the crucial north-western region and Central India have witnessed rainfall that has been 299% and 23% higher than the LPA, the eastern/north-eastern and southern region saw a 29-34% deficit— has somewhat dampened the Kharif crop outlook.