Monsoon deficit in July causes concern over kharif crop

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Published: August 1, 2020 4:00 AM

The monsoon is normal (100% of LPA) during June-July, according to official data. It was 118% of LPA in June.

Planting of paddy has so far covered 67% of its normal area of 39.7 million hectare as it is usually late sown in West Bengal, the country’s largest producer, compared with other states.Planting of paddy has so far covered 67% of its normal area of 39.7 million hectare as it is usually late sown in West Bengal, the country’s largest producer, compared with other states.

The lowest rainfall in five years during this July, which is usually the wettest month of the June-September monsoon season, has fuelled speculation on the prospects of kharif crops, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha. Any further shortage of rainfall in August against a prediction of 97% of the long period average will lower the yield of crops such as oilseeds and pulses which are mostly grown in rainfed areas.

The country as a whole received 90% of the long period of average (LPA) of 285.3 mm rainfall during July, while the India Meteorological Department had predicted 103%, with an error margin of plus/minus 9%. Except the southern states, all other regions of the country have received lower rainfall in July than June. “August is the key month to watch out as the IMD has not changed its prediction for the month in the update released on Friday,” a government official said. For both August and September together, the monsoon is likely to be 104% of LPA, the weather bureau said.

The monsoon is normal (100% of LPA) during June-July, according to official data. It was 118% of LPA in June.

Due to early arrival of monsoon and 18% more than normal rainfall in June, the kharif sowing progressed very well this year, recording higher acreage against the year-ago period in all the crops. The total kharif acreage is now 83% of the season’s normal area of 106.64 million hectare, the agriculture ministry said in a statement on Friday. While oilseeds acreage has reached near normal level, cotton and sugarcane have already exceeded their respective normal benchmark levels.

Planting of paddy has so far covered 67% of its normal area of 39.7 million hectare as it is usually late sown in West Bengal, the country’s largest producer, compared with other states.

Rajasthan, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are among major states which are monsoon deficient, so far. However, the distribution inside a state, even if it has normal rainfall, is patchy. For instance, the irrigated western Uttar Pradesh has received 27% below normal rainfall while eastern and central regions have recorded 20% above normal precipitation, so far this year. Similarly, the Saurashtra and Kutch areas have excess rainfall (47% more than normal) while other parts of Gujarat have got 42% below normal rains.

“Since reservoir levels across the country are better than normal, the irrigated areas will not have any problem. Timely rains in some interval will what farmers will look forward as they need at least 2-3 rounds of irrigation to save the crops,” the official said.

In 2015, the July rainfall was 17% below normal while 16% above normal in June. Even both August (-22%) and September (-24%) were deficient, leading to the seasonal rainfall finally ended up at 86% of LPA and there was drought in some parts like Maharashtra and Karnataka.

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