New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that the country was facing a drought threat.
India’s vital monsoon rains have been 29% below normal since the beginning of the June-September season, hurting crops such as rice and sugarcane and triggering a sharp rise in food prices.
Click here for a slideshow of how the drought is affecting India
“We are staring at the prospect of an impending drought,” Singh told a meeting of environment ministers of Indian states.
Monsoon rains have revived in the past few days, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, where the local government has declared a drought in the majority of the districts.
The weather office has forecast widespread rains in the key cane-growing areas in north and northwest India as well as the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the main soybean-growing region.
Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said on Monday that the country needed to raise planting of winter-sown crops and improve irrigation to make up for the damage to farms.
Monsoon rains are vital for India’s summer-sown crops such as rice, sugarcane and soybeans because the majority of the farmers do not have access to irrigation facilities.