Home / News / India /  Heavy rains in October will risk India's rice, wheat crops

Agriculture supports half of India's population and accounts for nearly 15% of the country's nearly $3 trillion economy. Monsoon rains are critical for India's farm-dependent economy because nearly half of the country's farmland is irrigated. But, this year excessive monsoon rainfalls in October may prove costly to the farmers as it may pose risks for summer-sown crops such as rice and the plantation of wheat.

Heavy rains in October could seriously damage crops such as rice, pulses, cotton, and soybeans. It may also cause wheat planting to be delayed in parts of India, which is the world's leading producer of a variety of farm goods.

In the first half of the June-September monsoon season, insufficient rain in eastern and northern India hampered rice planting, forcing the government to reduce output estimates and cap exports in order to ensure adequate supplies for the country's 1.4 billion people. The restrictions followed a ban on wheat exports imposed after the crop was shriveled by a sudden rise in temperatures in March and April.

“Monthly rainfall is expected at 115% of the long-term average," Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told a virtual news conference.

Even though monsoon rains were patchy in some of India's major rice-producing states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of West Bengal, overall summer rains were 6% higher than average during the season, with torrential downpours in the central and southern regions.

India is witnessing a more erratic monsoon for the past few years, which is raising doubts about food output and self-sufficiency. One more phenomenon to notice is the rising intensity of rains during the tail end of the season and lingering.

Mohapatra informed us that this year's monsoon can last longer than normal.

Although a longer monsoon season benefits winter crops by keeping the soil moist and replenishing reservoirs, unusually heavy rains impede agricultural activities.

"Crops are getting ready for harvesting and they need dry weather," said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

"Excessive rainfall could damage crops, especially rice in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal," said the trader who did not wish to be identified in line with his company's policy.

Millions of Indian farmers begin planting wheat in October, just weeks after harvesting the rice crop. Wheat is then harvested in March and April.

With Inputs from agencies

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