New Delhi: Large swathes of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal are seeing record downpour this monsoon, but experts say there’s no threat yet to the kharif crop, sowing of which is nearing completion across the country.
According to the latest estimates from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Andhra Pradesh recorded 121% more rainfall this week than what’s usual for this time of the year. While not as substantial, Karnataka has seen 50%, Maharashtra 33%, and West Bengal nearly 30% more than the weekly normal.
West Bengal accounts for 16.6% of the national rice output; Karnataka and Maharashtra account for 60.12% of sunflower, and 40% of the total onion output; and Andhra 13.63% of the cotton, one-third of the sunflower and 41% of the combined maize and cereal output, according to agriculture ministry data.
I.P.S. Ahlawat, chief agronomist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute said, there’s no cause for concern. “Even among states where the rains have been in excess, the distribution was quite well. As long as the distribution is even, we’re not worried about excess rainfall.”
Ministry data, indeed, seems to bear him out. According to the latest report on the progress of kharif sowing, the total area under kharif production has seen a 2.5% jump. But the area under sunflower in Karnataka has dipped 7% and in Maharashtra 38%.
“The sowing is still in progress and will be on till mid October,” said A.L. Koppar, deputy director of IMD, admitting that many farmers had “temporarily” postponed their sowing to October due to heavy rainfall. West Bengal, on the contrary, has seen a 3% jump in its rice production.
In spite of the looming threat of excess rainfall, the monsoon pressure systems are far from abating. “It’s not unusual for these parts to register such torrential rainfall even at this time of the year,” said Madhavan Rajeevan, director of the National Climate Centre in Pune, which plays a pivotal role in preparing the country’s monsoon forecasts, “but we can’t yet say when the monsoon will withdraw.”
As of Thursday, the country has received 96% of the rainfall that it normally receives during the season. Meanwhile, onion prices on Thursday increased by 8-13% in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, the largest producing centres in the country, as normal supply has been hit following the heavy rains in the region.
PTI contributed to this story.