With 87% of the country’s geographical area falling under deficient/large deficient category as on Monday — as against 82% on June 11 — and private forecaster Skymet saying it will now be difficult to make up for the June deficiency, the concerns over a weak monsoon has intensified. Though these are still early days and sowing conventionally picks up pace in early July, the delayed progress of the monsoon has started hitting farming activities in many parts of the country, particularly central and eastern regions.
Sowing of kharif crops continues to trail the normal acreage. The Western India Sugar Mills Association (WISMA) said on Monday monsoon delay has led to drying of cane in most parts of Maharashtra. Production in the Marathwada region is expected to drop by 55% and in Solapur the Adsali cane has dried up, it said.
Area under all crops was 82.20 lakh hectares as of June 14, down from 90.34 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. Rice area trails at 4.26 lakh hectare against 5.47 lakh hectare last year while pulses acreage is down at 1.04 lakh hectare from 2.11 lakh hectare. As weathermen are not very hopeful of a complete recovery of rain in the remaining period to cover the losses till now, all eyes are now focussed on the July rainfall, which is the wettest month during the four month season (June-September).
This year’s southwest monsoon, which hit Kerala seven days behind the normal onset date, has been stalled since June 11 after covering Kerala and a few southern districts of Tamil Nadu. The recent cyclone Vayu further hampered its progress. However, the India Meteorological Department said on Monday that conditions are becoming favourable for further advance of monsoon into some more parts of Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, remaining parts of Tamil Nadu, some more parts of West Bengal, remaining parts of north-east region and some parts of Odisha in the next 4-5 days.
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Skymet too has predicted rains from June 20 onwards in east and central India. “The gloomy period seems to be taking a turn now. Our weather models are showing a circulation in the Bay of Bengal around June 19. This system is likely to take some shape and get organised. In fact, it shows signs of strengthening and becoming a low-pressure area,” said Skymet CEO Jatin Singh.
IMD has predicted 95% of long period average (28.9 cm) for July while Skymet pegged it at 91% Overall, the country has received rains 43% lower than normal since June 1 as monsoon hit Kerala coast on June 8. IMD has predicted rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2019 southwest monsoon season (June to September) to be ‘normal’ at 96% of the long period average (LPA). Rainfall between 96% and 104% of the LPA (89 cm) is considered ‘normal’ monsoon. Skymet has predicted the rainfall to be 93% (with an error margin of +/-5%) of LPA. In the last few years, the actual monsoon rainfalls were lower than predicted by IMD. The last two years saw below-normal monsoon.
As reported by FE earlier, the agriculture ministry had already asked state governments to prepare for any eventuality in case of an ‘aberrant monsoon’.