Mumbai: The Indian Meteorological Department forecast heavier rainfall for the next two days in the western areas, likely damaging the sugar cane and oilseed crops.
“Widespread rainfall with scattered heavy to very heavy rainfall, and isolated extremely heavy rainfall is likely,” the Met department said in a statement on Monday.
The forecast could be bad news for farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat, where torrential rains have killed 49 people and displaced 5,000 since 1 June, according to PTI. Maharashtra is India’s biggest grower of cotton and second largest producer of sugar cane. Gujarat is the largest grower of peanut, the main summer oilseed crop.
“Some of the sugar cane is in the danger of being damaged if heavy rains continue for the next two days,” said Prakash Naiknavare, managing director of the Maharashtra State Co- operative Sugar Factories Federation Ltd.
Farmers have grown sugar cane across 4.4 million ha this season, compared with 4.2 million hectares normally. Oilseeds, including peanut, soyabean and sunflower, were sown in 452,000 ha on 22 June, down 3.3% from year-ago levels. Cotton has been planted to 1.5 million ha, compared with 1.47 million ha a year earlier, according to the farm ministry.
A smaller harvest of peanuts and other oilseeds may force the nation to import more palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, and soya bean oil from countries such as Argentina and Brazil. India, the world’s second biggest buyer of cooking oil after China, imported 24% more edible oils in May from a year ago, the Solvent Extractors’ Association said on 14 June.
West Bengal and Orissa, the main rice-growing states, may receive more rainfall from 5 July due to the formation of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal, the weather bureau said.
Rains in July, which account for a third of the four-month monsoon showers, will be 95% of its long-term average of 293mm, according to the weather bureau.
The June-September monsoon rainfall will be 93% of the long-period average, a level deemed normal, it said on 29 June.