Monsoon plays truant; govt preparing plan of action

Monsoon plays truant; govt preparing plan of action
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First Published: Wed, Jun 24 2009. 03 36 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Jun 24 2009. 03 36 PM IST
New Delhi: What should the government do to tackle a possible failure of monsoon? Agriculture secretaries of states that have not received rainfall will meet Union agriculture secretary on Thursday to search for answers.
About 60% of the total cultivable area of 140 million hectare is rain fed, while the rest is irrigated.
Southwest monsoon, which had brought cheer to the farming community due to its early onset on 23 May, had stopped in its tracks over Konkan region of Maharashtra on 7 June.
Union agriculture secretary, T Nanda Kumar will hold discussions with agriculture secretaries of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh on how to deal with the situation that could send the economy into a downward spiral.
On 20 June, the committee of secretaries (CoS), headed by union cabinet secretary, took stock of the situation arising out of delay in monsoon and its impact on kharif crops.
The CoS had decided that the agriculture ministry on 25 June will call a meeting of agriculture secretaries of those states which have so far not received rainfall. These states have been also asked to come up with contingency plans in case the monsoon gets further delayed.
However, Nanda Kumar had said that “at this point of time there is no cause of worry”. He would brief the cabinet secretary about the outcome of the meet on 26 June.
The agriculture sector supports the livelihood of about 60% of the country’s population.
The major kharif crops are paddy, jowar, bajra, maize, cotton, groundnut, soyabean, arhar, urad, moong and sugarcane. Failure of monsoon will severely impact the output of these crops.
Although farm sector accounts for less than 20% of GDP, the country was hoping that a good crop would prop up growth, especially when other sectors are not doing so well given the global slowdown.
The CoS is likely to meet again after the meeting of state-level farm secretaries.
The agriculture ministry has been asked to monitor the seed availability to ensure that farmers get sufficient seed for re-sowing, if required. The delay in monsoon damages the already sown seeds, for which farmers need re-planting.
The main focus of the government has been on the rainfed areas, which are dependent on monsoon rains.
As on 19 June, the country had received just over 50% of the normal rainfall this season. Of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions, 28 reported deficient or scanty rainfall while eight received excess or normal rains.
Under normal conditions, monsoon should have reached Mumbai by 10 June and covered entire Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh by 15 June.
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First Published: Wed, Jun 24 2009. 03 36 PM IST