New Delhi: In a prediction that may boost consumer and business sentiment and which bodes well for food supply next year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday said rainfall over north-west India is likely to improve significantly over the next week. Officials also said the week would see rainfall peak over most of India.
Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, known as “rice bowl” states, mainly depend on irrigation for farming. But concerns have been mounting over the last few weeks among government officials and farmers, with water levels in major reservoirs such as the Gobind Sagar dam in Himachal Pradesh and Tehri in Uttarakhand at less than half their 10-year averages. North-west India is expected to get only 81% of its seasonal rains this year.
An exception: Mumbai has been receiving heavy rainfall. However, the country’s seasonal rain deficit is still as high as 33%. Punit Paranjpe / Reuters
A poor monsoon could hurt next year’s food supply. India’s 235 million farmers have planted kharif (summer) crops on 30.7 million ha as on 10 July, down 21% from a year ago, according to the agriculture ministry. The area under rice has shrunk 20% to 7.43 million ha.
“July has seen a marked improvement and the next week should see improved rainfall activity in the north-west,” said D.S. Pai, IMD’s director (forecasting). “We expect July rainfall to follow the pattern we predicted in late June, namely, 93% of the normal.”
Bloomberg reports that a revival in the monsoon since 8 July has helped narrow the nation’s seasonal rain deficit to 33% from as much as 46% last month. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is relying on higher farm production to push economic growth back to 9% and to meet an election promise of ensuring food security for poor families.
The revival should particularly help paddy, which was in danger of drying up in the north-western states, said Atul Chaturvedi, president of Adani Enterprises Ltd, India’s biggest private farm goods trader.
Crop yields in the north-west region may decline because of inadequate rainfall, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Monday.
Bloomberg contributed to this story.