Weak monsoon not yet a worry, says Pawar

Weak monsoon not yet a worry, says Pawar

New Delhi: Week monsoon rains in the past week will not significantly hurt crop output in the country and the weather outlook is encouraging, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Friday.

India’s monsoon rains, vital for farm output gains after last year’s drought, were 24% below normal in the past week and unlikely to rebound in the week ahead, the weather office said on Thursday, raising fears of crop loss.

Pawar said rainfall had been deficient in parts of Uttar Pradesh, the main cane-growing area, and some eastern region, but the India Meteorological Department was still optimistic about total rainfall in the June-September monsoon season.

“The presentation given to me by the Met department is quite encouraging. There would be good rains in July and August, and I am not worried," Pawar told reporters.

Pawar said planting of summer-sown crops was progressing well.

“I took the assessment of sowing. As compared to last year, rice, oilseed, cane, jute and cotton plantings are higher."

Pawar also said that a panel of ministers would consider imposing an import tax on wheat.

India has huge stocks of wheat, but some millers in coastal regions of southern India import high-protein wheat from Australia, which works out cheaper for them because local taxes and high transit costs make domestic wheat from northern regions relatively costly.