The Centre on Wednesday asked its States to be prepared for the “worst situation” and ensure adequate availability of seeds for the kharif season in case of deficient monsoon rainfall. The latest advisory has come after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) confirmed that the majority of global models indicate the emergence of a moderate El Nino during the monsoon season (June–September), which contributes 72 per cent of the annual rainfall in the country.

Addressing the annual Kharif Campaign, organised to prepare strategies for the upcoming season, Union Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said the weather department has forecast a normal monsoon and El Nino conditions could develop during the monsoon season.

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“We should be prepared for the worst situation. There are chances of less rain, and there are chances that El Nino conditions might not occur. There should be complete preparedness at the State level,” he said.

According to IMD, the monsoon will be “normal” (96 per cent of the Long Period Average) this year, and the next update will be issued by the end of this month. However, private weather forecaster Skymet has predicted a “below normal” monsoon (94 per cent of LPA). Monsoon rainfall between 96 and 104 per cent of the long-period average (LPA) of 868.6 mm is known as “normal,” and between 90 and 95 per cent of the LPA is considered “below normal”.

Climate-resilient seeds

Since seeds are the key component that is immediately required in case of deficient or delayed rainfall as farmers have to re-sow the same or alternative short-duration crops or varieties all of a sudden, the demand has to be met immediately. Ahuja requested that States ensure that there is adequate availability of seeds for the sowing operations and assess the situation regularly throughout the season.

Highlighting the importance of climate-resilient seed varieties, which help maintain yield in adverse weather conditions due to climate challenges, he suggested the dissemination of a single advisory to farmers for weather updates.

Earlier, inaugurating the conference, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked States to promote technology in the farm sector to cut input costs, boost production, and increase farmers’ income. He said profit guarantee is the need of the hour, and technology can help make farming profitable by reducing input costs and increasing production.

As agriculture is a State subject, he urged State governments to implement Central programmes and contribute funds adequately for better results. In some of the farm sector schemes like crop insurance, States are also required to contribute half of the subsidy burden though their roles are never acknowledged in the promotion of such schemes.

Tomar also requested that States promote nano fertilisers, which have already been launched in the market, as consumption of conventional (granular) urea has not reduced despite the availability of alternative nano-urea and the adoption of natural and organic farming practices.

According to the ministry, fertiliser consumption in the country increased 1.6 per cent to 585.43 lakh tonnes (lt) in 2022–23 from 576.09 lt in the previous year. Out of this, urea sales are up 5.3 per cent to 356.75 lt and DAP by 14.1 per cent to 105.19 lt. However, consumption of MoP dipped 33.4 per cent to 16.28 lt and that of complex by 11.3 per cent to 107.21 lt.