The next few days are going to test farmers in many parts of the country as the monsoon is all set to enter a weak phase.
Anupam Kashyapi, head, weather monitoring and pollution monitoring unit (IMD), said that barring some states in the north and northeastern part of the country, rains would be sporadic in most parts.
The monsoon this year has started on a lethargic note with a delayed onset and an even slower progress. The monsoon is yet to cover the whole country with parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab yet to come under its influence.
The nationwide deficit has reduced to 12 per cent but rainfall has been unevenly distributed across the country.
Kashyapi, talking about the weakening, said that this would be mainly due to the trough, which passes through the Indo-Gangetic plain, moving towards the foothills. “For the next four or five days, parts of North-East, Uttarakhand, Bihar, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Gangetic West Bengal will receive heavy to very heavy rainfall, which might trigger floods in some parts,” he said.
However, with both the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal branches of the monsoon weakening, central India and southern peninsular India will be devoid of rains till July 15. The IMD previously predicted near normal rainfall for July.
July is a crucial month for farmers as it coincides with the vegetative growth phase of the crops. Any break in rainfall can be detrimental, which might force farmers to go for resowing which entails financial losses.
Sowing in Maharashtra has picked up with the state reporting sowing over 35.67 lakh hectares. Last year, the state had reported sowing over 50.20 lakh hectares.
Closer home, a weak monsoon will spell more trouble for drought-hit Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Farmers had delayed sowing and the present dry spell might just spell serious trouble for their germinating crops. At risk are the growing crops of cotton and soyabean, which occupy considerable acreage in these regions.
In fact, the vagaries of monsoon might see India’s cotton acreage remaining stagnant even as kapas (seed cotton) prices promise to remain strong.
Ram Kaundinya, Director General of Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), said the cotton acreage in key states like Gujarat was likely to drop. “While the final acreage will be available in the next fortnight or so but indications are that the projected growth in cotton acreage might not happen,” he said.
Moisture stress is likely to hit the crop in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Late sowing, Kuandinya said, affects yield by 10-15 per cent so India’s cotton yields are likely to be hit this season.