oppn parties Monsoon Plays Truant, Planting Goes Down

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Monsoon Plays Truant, Planting Goes Down

By Ashwini Agarwal

As of now, the planting season has brought further woes upon farmers as the erratic monsoon has ensured that planting is down by 21%, especially for cash-rich and highly remunerative crops such as pulses and oil-seeds. Does this mean that there will be a shortage of these crops later in the year? Yes and no. There might be a shortage if the monsoon does not stabilize to normal in the next couple of weeks. There might even be a shortage if torrential rains bring floods to areas already under plantation, as standing water will not let the plants grow. Since planting for kharif crops goes on in July, if the rains get better, there will be hectic planting and the acreage planted may even go beyond 100 percent. Then there will be no shortage.

The areas of concern are east and north-east India which have experienced a dry season with rainfall falling to 27% below normal. Central India has gone down by 3%. Met has predicted that monsoon will shed its erratic ways in July and there will be near-to-normal rainfall by mid-July. These are glad tidings for the stressed farmers as well as the country. The other good news is that the south and the north-west (where most farmers are in trouble) have experienced higher than normal rainfall leading to good plantation. Maybe this year will bring a bumper crop and the farmers will be able to return to normal living. But it also underscores our heavy dependence on the monsoon, which is becoming increasingly erratic year after year, in the absence of other, more permanent ways of watering the plants. Serous planning needs to go in the agricultural policy to alleviate the woes of the farmers.