M A I N   N E W S

Monsoon covers nation, but deficient in some states
Vibha Sharma/TNS

Advance of SW Monsoon 2012

New Delhi, July 11
The “straggler” monsoon of 2012 today managed to cover the entire country, four days ahead of its official date of July 15, but the government’s worries are not yet over.

Despite countrywide coverage, seasonal rains continue to be 23 per cent in the red with the Northwest struggling with a deficiency of 40 per cent. Though it is an improvement over last week’s cumulative deficit of 31 per cent and 71 per cent shortfall in the region, rains have been patchy in their progress over the country’s granaries.

The weather office expects the situation to remain more or less the same in the near future. IMD chief LS Rathore said the monsoon was still minus 23 per cent (of the normal rainfall average) and the shortfall was likely to “continue until next week”.

crucial for crops

Monsoon rains are crucial for the farm sector as only 40% of cultivable area is under irrigation

Karnataka and Maharashtra are staring at a deficiency of around 50% and 36%, figures that qualify them to be classified as drought-hit

Poor rains could affect production of coarse cereals such as bajra, jowar and maize and supply of drinking water in rain-fed areas

India produced a record 252.56MT foodgrain on good monsoon last year. Of this, coarse cereal production stood at 41.91MT

What the government is particularly concerned about is poor rainfall in Karnataka and central Maharashtra, which could affect the production of coarse cereals and supply of drinking water in the rain-fed areas.

Overall, the rainfall situation improved across the country in the past 10 days, barring these two regions that are now staring at a deficiency of around 50 per cent and 36 per cent — figures that qualify them to be classified as drought-hit.

Following a review meeting on uneven monsoon with Food Minister KV Thomas and IMD chief LS Rathore, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar conceded he was worried about poor rains in Karnataka and central Maharashtra.

“Karnataka and central Maharashtra continue to be the worrisome areas,” he said. The meeting was held to analyse the impact of deficient rains on sowing of kharif crops.

With the two regions receiving scanty rains so far, the situation of coarse cereals -- bajra, jowar and maize -- is not good. Authorities have been directed to launch area-specific contingency plans in affected zones.

However, the government is confident as far as other kharif crops such as paddy, cotton, sugarcane and oilseeds are concerned. Sowing operations are in progress and Pawar expects them to pick up in the coming days. “Half the sowing is already over, but it can continue up to the first week of August. There is time… With improvement in rains, the planting of paddy, soyabean and groundnut would gain momentum,” he said

Regarding the impact of deficient rains on supply vis-à-vis prices of food items, Pawar again expected no problem, with godowns overflowing with foodgrains.

The 2009 drought, the worst in nearly four decades, had sent food prices rocketing, causing hardships for the common man.

This year, the monsoon hit Kerala on June 5, but made slow progress thereafter, remaining stuck for several days around June 21. The rains will now shift focus to the Himalayas, Terai and North-East region, as per the IMD

So far, some parts of Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and central Madhya Pradesh have received scanty rains. The situation in the Northwest is not likely to improve in the immediate future with only some light rains expected in the coming days.

Monsoon rains are crucial for the agriculture sector, which contributes about 15 per cent to the country's GDP, as only 40 per cent of the total cultivable area is under irrigation.





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