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Business News/ Economy / Summer crops in trouble as scorching heat sucks up reservoir waters
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Summer crops in trouble as scorching heat sucks up reservoir waters

Depleting water levels at India's 150 major reservoirs and scorching temperatures have affected the sowing of summer crops and the yields of some crucial winter crops
  • India's weather bureau, however, has forecast heavy to very heavy or extreme rain in Kerala between Saturday and Monday
  • As many as 20 states across the country have witnessed rain deficiency or no rainfall since March. Premium
    As many as 20 states across the country have witnessed rain deficiency or no rainfall since March.

    NEW DELHI : Sowing of crucial summer crops as well as yields of some winter crops this year have been affected with water levels at India’s 150 major reservoirs depleting further to 25% of their total capacity, leaving farmers hoping that the forecast of a normal monsoon will bear fruit.

    While 33 reservoirs have 50% of normal water storage capacity, 85 reservoirs reported about 80% of normal storage, the Central Water Commission said in a bulletin on Thursday.

    Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south and Bihar and West Bengal on the east have been facing significant shortfalls in water storage.

    Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar and West Bengal have been facing significant shortfalls in water storage, with reservoir levels this week dropping to as low as 14% in the southern states and nearly to 32% in the eastern regions.

    Lower rainfall and a scorching summer caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon have resulted in severe water scarcity in some regions, such as in Bengaluru. 

    As many as 20 states across the country have witnessed rain deficiency or no rainfall since March. The country has received 13% below-normal rainfall since March, as per the India Meteorological Department.

    “The lower reservoir levels reportedly had an adverse impact on the latest rabi (winter crops) and summer crops in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and in Bihar and Odisha farmers have witnessed wilting in case of pulses, and shriveling of grains in case of paddy," said Pushan Sharma, director-research, Crisil Market Intelligence and Analytics.

    “Rabi paddy farmers have also reportedly witnessed drying of the crop in a few districts of AP and Telangana which falls under the Krishna belt," Sharma added. “Additionally, high temperatures in April and May are estimated to have adversely impacted vegetable yield due to wilting, scorching and reduction in fruit size."

    Lower than the decade's average 

    The India Meteorological Department on Wednesday forecast timely onset of monsoon over the Kerala coast, beginning 31 May.

    The weather bureau has also predicted that India will likely receive above-normal monsoon rainfall at 106% of long-period average (87 cm) this year, with the El Nino weather phenomenon turning neutral, and benign La Nina conditions setting in by August-September.

    Also read | Mint Explainer: Return of La Nina and its impact on Indian monsoon, agriculture

    According to data from the CWC, the available water level this week in the reservoirs was 45.277 billion cubic metres (BCM), nearly 22% lower than in the corresponding period last year, and 7.7% lower than the average of the previous 10 years.

    Live storage available in 150 reservoirs as of Thursday was 78% of the live storage of the corresponding period of the previous year and 92% of the average of the previous 10 years.

    “Depleting water reservoir levels and heat waves may have some impact on rural demand and it will affect prices due to losses in transit," said Devendra Pant, chief economist at India Ratings.

    Due to the El Nino effect, India’s foodgrain production is estimated to be 6.1% lower in the 2023-24 crop year (July-June) at 309 million tonnes, according to the second advance estimates issued by the agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry in February.

    Also read | What will the rising mercury this summer do to Indian inflation?

    “For the period ahead, a normal monsoon forecast by IMD this year will bode well for these states. However, statistically normal monsoon may not be enough and its spatial and temporal distribution will be critical," said Sharma of Crisil Market Intelligence. 

    Sharma, however, added that crops such as paddy, maize, pulses, okra, tomatoes and cotton that suffered last year because of delayed monsoon are expected to benefit this year from a normal and well-distributed rainfall.

    Forecast for heavy rains

    The India Meteorological Department on Thursday forecast heavy to very heavy or extreme rain in Kerala between Saturday and Monday, and issued an orange alert in several districts between Saturday and Wednesday.

    The orange alert is issued as a warning of extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption in commute with road and rail closures, and interruption of power supply.

    Strong south westerly winds at lower levels are likely to prevail over Kerala during May 18-20, and widespread rainfall activity with heavy to very heavy rainfall/extremely heavy rainfall is likely over the same region and during the same period, the weather bureau said in its latest bulletin.

     

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Puja Das
    Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
    Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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    Published: 16 May 2024, 08:41 PM IST
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