The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday announced the commencement of withdrawal of the south-west monsoon from parts of southwest Rajasthan and Kutch, signalling the end of its four-month (June-September) journey.
The Met department has predicted heavy rainfall spells over Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha and east Madhya Pradesh during the next 2-3 days, because of a low-pressure area over north-west Bay of Bengal and adjoining north Odisha-West Bengal coasts.
During the monsoon season, the country receives more than 70% of the annual rainfall, which play a crucial role in boosting production of kharif, or summer, crops — paddy, pulses, oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane. The complete withdrawal of the monsoon usually takes about a month.
The cumulative monsoon rainfall received in all the four regions during June 1-September 20 was 878 mm, 7% more than the long-period average (LPA) of 822 mm for the same period. However, the distribution of rainfall has been rather uneven. The rainfall deficiency in the east and north-east, and north-west regions have been 17% and 4%, respectively, so far, while central India and the south peninsula have received 20% and 28% more rainfall than the LPA.
Key rice-growing states that have received deficient rainfall include Uttar Pradesh (-37%), Bihar (-30%), Jharkhand (-205) and Punjab (-21%) so far.
Paddy-sowing areas across the country was reported at 39.9 million hectares (mh) last week, which was 4.5% less than year ago. Food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey has stated that India’s rice production could decline by 6-10 million tonne (mt) in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), compared to a record 130 mt in the 2021-22 crop year.
Overall kharif crops — paddy, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, nutri-cereals, etc have been sown in 109.2 mh till last week, which is a marginal decline of 0.8 % against 110.1 mh reported a year ago. Officials said that kharif-sowing activities have been largely completed across the country.
Earlier this month, the Met department predicted that the rainfall averaged over the country as a whole during September 2022 is most likely to be above the normal range of 109 % of benchmark LPA.
The country received 16.8% more rainfall than the LPA in July, wiping out June’s deficit of 8%. In August, monsoon rains were 3.5% more than the LPA.
In May, the IMD, in its second long-range forecast, had stated that India will receive a ‘normal’ southwest monsoon (June-September), at 103% of the benchmark. Experts say that a delayed withdrawal of the monsoon might help in leaving good soil moisture for the rabi crops, but could make the standing kharif crops prone to damage and pests, due to prolonged exposure to rains at the pre-harvesting stage.