News that the India Meteorological Department has announced a “break” in the monsoon, while appearing to sound somewhat alarming to farmers and other rain watchers, is reiteration of a well documented pattern that doesn’t alter original forecasts of rainfall for this year.
The department says the monsoon, so far, augurs well for a good kharif sowing. Meanwhile, the government is already reporting a higher amount land being brought under crops this year, a development that could help relieve the pressure on food commodities in months to come.
“What we call a break is actually a regular phenomenon, where the rain recedes from central India, and the regions of Northwest, Northeast India, and...Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh instead get better rains,” said B.P. Yadav, director at the Indian Meteorological Department.
The break in the monsoon is an annual feature with the only issue being how weak or prolonged the break is for the central India region of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, portions of southern Uttar Pradesh, eastern Rajasthan and Gujarat. “The break lasts for two to four weeks,” Yadav explained.
Overall, the area under Kharif crop has also shown a higher coverage with the area under oilseeds, especially soyabean, showing a substantial increase to a three-year high of 121.60 lakh hectares sown by 19 July. Groundnut and castor areas too have reported higher sowing than in the previous two years.
The sub-divisions showing substantial deficit in the rainfall are eastern Madhya Pradesh, western UP and the Marathwada area of Maharshtra, with 33%, 38% and 31% deficits, each, compared with the normal expected rainfall there.
The major deficit, though, is being recorded in the Northeast parts of India with the entire region at a 11% deficit. But, this too is a mid-season snapshot with the picture likely to change after the “break” in two to four weeks.
According to the government, the area sown under rice had gone up to 116.78 lakh hectares from about about 115.37 lakh hectares last year. The sowing in Punjab, where the monsoon has hit rains in earnest only after June, is at a peak according to government reports. The respite from rain in central India will also give time to farmers to plant coarse grains such as jowar, bajra and maize, which do not require heavy moisture-laden soils.