Farmers’ monsoon gamble
Apropos of the report “Raise short-duration crops to counter poor rains” (June 11), the agriculture ministry’s advisory, endorsed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, to farmers of the northern parts of the country to sow short-duration variety of crops to deal with the possibility of a deficit monsoon is mainly based on IMD’s prediction of a deficient monsoon. We should not forget that IMD’s rate of accurate monsoon prediction is only 40%. That means the poor farmers are supposed to gamble on the possibility of a poor monsoon. First, they should go ahead with Plan A by sowing crops assuming there will be normal monsoon. In the event of deficit monsoon, then they should switch to Plan B and follow the ministry’s advisory. That means poor farmers will have to invest twice in purchasing seeds. In the event of monsoon deficit, they will have to forego their first investment and purchase seeds for the second time. Can poor farmers afford this? Even if there is a monsoon-deficit and farmers succeed in getting a good yield in Plan B, they will only end up repaying the loan taken for Plan A. The government will have to provide some kind of assurance to farmers on having to purchase seeds only once, independent of the success or failure of the monsoon, especially since it is the IMD which has made the prediction.