But narrows its lead over the benchmark 10-year average to 12%
Water storage across the country jumped 33% up to Thursday from a year earlier, but it narrowed its lead over the benchmark 10-year average to 12% from as high as 45% until July 2, as the nation received deficient rainfall in July. Having exceeded the long-period average (LPA) by 28% up to June 25, monsoon showers have lost intensity over the past few days to drop 6% from the LPA as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, wishing not to leave anything to chance, the government has issued a detailed region-wise advisory for farmers, asking them to take up short-duration crops, such as oilseeds and pulses. They have been asked to undertake light hoeing and mix mulch with crop residue to conserve soil moisture where monsoon has been deficient.
The water reserves across 91 reservoirs touched 51.62 billion cubic metres (bcm) up to Thursday, against 38.96 bcm a year earlier and the normal 10-year average of 46.20 bcm, according to the data compiled by the ministry of water resources. The current reserves are 33% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs, compared with 25% a year earlier. Last year, the water level was even lower than the normal level due to wide-spread dry-spells initially, following a 36% drop in seasonal showers from the LPA between June 1 to July 16.
In the current monsoon season (June-September), the quantum of rainfall has been 288.8 millimetres until Thursday, down from the LPA for the period of 308.5 mm, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Monsoon showers were 16% above the LPA in June.
Helped by good rainfall and water reserves, the sowing of summer crops, which had been down by 7.4% up to June 19, not just erased the deficit but surged 62% by July 10 from a year before.
Advisory to tackle erratic monsoon
The government has issued a region-wise advisory to farmers on how to tackle the erratic weather.
In case of those regions which have received normal or excess rainfall so far during last six weeks, the advisory has urged farmers to transplant rice and sow other kharif crops such as oilseeds and pulses, according to the advisory, prepared jointly by the India Meteorological Department and the ministry of agriculture.
For parts of northern Karnataka, where monsoon has been deficient by a huge 32% from the benchmark level so far, the government has urged farmers to undertake sowing of contingent crops like medium duration sunflower, red gram and bajra. For the coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh, which has received a huge 35% more rainfall than normal, the advisory has suggested farmers to continue with nursery sowing of rice and groundnut.
“Avoid sowing of cotton, maize, groundnut, jowar, soybean, pulses, castor, pigeon pea, green gram etc. in rayalseema and other rain deficit regions of Telangana,” the advisory noted.
For the rain deficient Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada regions, which has received 30% and 44% less-than-normal monsoon rains, respectively, the advisory has suggested the application of “protective irrigation (drip or sprinkle) to early-sown crops like soybean, cotton, red gram and jowar in view of prevailing water stress condition.”
Bihar, which has received a huge 23% less rainfall than normal, the agriculture ministry communication has urged farmers to continue nursery sowing of rice and sowing of kharif maize.