Agri Business

How excess North-East Monsoon rainfall is affecting agriculture across India

Our Bureau | | | Updated on: Dec 09, 2021
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Over 20 crops affected, States yet to assess impact on farm production

India has received 52 per cent excess rainfall to date during the current North-East monsoon with north-west parts receiving double the normal showers and the southern peninsula 69 per cent more than normal, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data.

The onset of the North-East Monsoon this year witnessed hectic weather activities both over the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal, the centre of action for the monsoon. At least 47 per cent of the country has received “large excess rainfall' ' (60 per cent more than normal), 16 per cent excess rains (20-59 per cent more than normal) and 16 per cent normal rains.

The excess rainfall is reported to have affected the agriculture sector and some kharif crops besides delaying sowing during the current rabi season.

Tomar’s statement

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar told the Lok Sabha on Monday that 5.05 million hectares (mh) across the country have been affected by “hydro-meteorological calamities/hazards” so far this year.

He, however, did not provide details on the loss to agricultural output, saying it was being carried out by the “concerned State governments”.

Data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the calamities so far this year show that Karnataka has suffered the maximum with 1.43 mh being affected, followed by Maharashtra where 1.13 mh of lands have been hit and Bihar (0.74 mh). Over 0.6 mh have been affected in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Over 20 crops impacted

According to reports from across the country, over 20 major and minor crops have been affected by the rains that have pounded many parts of the country during October-November and until last week. The affected 5.05 mh represent around five per cent of the 95 mh classified as operational holdings or lands under cultivation in 2012-13 by the National Sample Survey Organisation. The 2010-11 agricultural census pegged the area under cultivation at 165 mh.

These crops include cereals such as paddy, jowar, maize, bajra, pulses - tur and urad, vegetables - onion, tomato and potato -, oilseeds such as soyabean, groundnut, castor and sesame, cotton, flowers and plantation crops such as pepper, coffee and arecanut.

“Agricultural production is likely to be affected, particularly in cotton, chilli, turmeric. Rabi sowing has been delayed, particularly that of wheat, while paddy ready for harvest has also been affected. Overall, I am not sure of major losses,” said BK Singh, Director, BKC Weather System Pvt Ltd that runs the Fasal Salah app with a large number of farmer subscribers.

Despite the reported losses, agricultural markets across the country have not witnessed any panic sales or purchases for most produce. Though prices of tomatoes topped ₹100 a kg in many parts until last week, prices of other vegetables are lower compared with the year-ago period.

For example, prices of potato in Agra are quoting at ₹1,020 a quintal compared with ₹2,000 a year ago. Onion rates are ruling ₹500 a quintal lower than last year as also tur by ₹100. Prices of cotton are up (₹8,100 vs ₹5,255 a quintal) mainly in line with the global trend, while Bajra and maize prices are also quoting higher.

In the case of dried or red chilli, prices are ₹2,000 a quintal higher since the beginning of the month. Pepper prices have increased to record as the rains are feared to result in production dropping by half next season starting January. Coffee prices are ruling at record high, oilseed prices are off from the record highs seen earlier this year.

Karnataka hit badly

In Karnataka, field crops, horticulture and plantation crops have been hit due to heavy rains under the influence of the North-East monsoon. It also experienced heavy rainfall during the South-West Monsoon during June-September.

During October-November, crops in 0.83 mh were affected as the State experienced excess rains triggered by the low pressure in Bay of Bengal. Paddy ready to be harvested was damaged in about 1.24 lakh hectares (lh), maize in about 93,470 hectares, ragi in 3.17 lh, tur (arhar/red gram) in 55,335 hectares, groundnut in 71,262 hectares, early sown bengal gram in 66,173 hectares and cotton in 66,173 hectares.

The cumulative impact of excess precipitation is estimated to have affected around 1.5 mh, including horticulture crops such as chilli and tomato, besides plantation crops including coffee. Agriculture Department sources said field crops in over 1.2 mh have been hit by excess rains between July and November in various parts of Karnataka.

“About 50 per cent of the area has been hit by excess rains this year. We are expecting lower yields this year,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President, Karnataka Pradesh Red Gram Growers Association. The crop has been damaged completely in about 2.91 lh in Karnataka due to excess rains during July-August and October-November.

Besides Karnataka, tur crop has been impacted in other States such as Telangana, Andhra, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Rains are also seen affecting cotton yield this year in Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.

“Growth and flowering in cotton has been impacted (in Karnataka) due to excess rains in November, which should affect the yields and quality. We are expecting a lower crop of around 21-22 lakh bales against the expected 23 lakh bales,” said Ramanuj Das Boob, a sourcing agent in Raichur.

Karnataka received 93 per cent excess rainfall till December 8 from October 1.

Plantation crops also felt the impact of the excess. Coffee growers and the trade expect the arabica crop to be lower by around 30 per cent between 60,000-70,000 tonnes this year.

Maharashtra crop loss

In Maharashtra, the Konkan, western Maharashtra, and Marathwada regions have reported massive crop loss and damages due to unseasonal rains in the last couple of months. Cultivation of wheat, onion, jowar, tur along with mango, strawberry, pomegranate, and grape has been affected resulting in losses, according to farmers.

In the Konkan region, mango producers said the Alphonso season will be affected because of rains in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. In Marathwada, mango cultivation rains and cloudy weather damaged the flowering of the fruit, and mango plantation in many areas has been affected by fungus.

The State Grape Growers Association has estimated that cultivation in over 2 lakh acres has been damaged, while Nashik and Sangli have reported excess damage. According to the Association, grapes are cultivated on about four lakh acres and unseasonal rains have damaged the fruit which was getting ready for the market.

In Nashik and Ahmednagar, onion producers said their fields were inundated, damaging the standing crop and also the onion stored in chawls have been infested by fungal growth.

In Sangli, Pune and Kolhapur districts - considered as the sugar bowl -, mills have slowed down crushing as fields are inundated as sugarcane cutting and transportation is not possible due to bad roads and water stagnation in fields.

Cotton , tur and soyabean growers in Marathwada and Vidarbha have also been hit by the excess rainfall, though the actual losses are yet to be ascertained.

AP and Telangana

Heavy rainfall in mid-November has caused extensive damage to crops in Andhra Pradesh. The worst hit are the four districts of Rayalaseema and Nellore, where crops in scores of mandals were washed away due to heavy floods.

"We are yet to assess the exact extent of the damage caused to crops. Crops like paddy, jowar, maize and cotton, which were at harvesting stage, were damaged. Bengal gram, which is at the vegetative stage, too suffered heavily," a senior government official said.

The untimely rains and the devastation caused had resulted in the delay of rabi sowings.

In Telangana, crops in 8-12 lakh acres have been reported damaged in the heavy rains. It damaged standing crops of paddy and cotton that were ready for harvesting.

Cyclone Jawad impact

In Bengal, heavy rainfall due to the impact of recent cyclone Jawad is likely to weigh heavily on both paddy and potato crops in West Bengal.

While paddy harvesting has been badly hit due to the untimely rains, sowing of potato, already delayed, is likely to be further impacted, industry insiders said.

According to Sushil Kumar Chaudhury, President, Bengal Rice Mills Association, heavy rains have caused “serious damage” to paddy in almost all the rice-growing districts in the State.

“The harvesting of paddy has just started. In many fields the paddy is at different stages of maturity. At this stage such heavy rainfall in all rice growing districts damaged paddy substantially. The grains are likely to be discoloured and inferior quality, much higher than the permissible percentages,” he said.

Impact in Gujarat

In Gujarat, the State government said last week that about 7.65 lh have been affected under the impact of heavy rains and flooding. It said as many as 5.06 lakh farmers will get the relief as per the norms laid down in the State Disaster Relief Fund .

A state government official said a survey was conducted in September showed that about 7.65 lakh hectares of area across nine districts covering 1,530 villages were affected. These districts include parts of Central Gujarat and Saurashtra. Ahmedabad, Botad, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Bharuch, Chhota Udepur, Panchmahal and Vadodara. The worst hit crops in the region are cotton, groundnut and pulses, while other key kharif crops include paddy, vegetables, sesame seed, castor and cereals among others.

Kerala’s losses

In Kerala, nearly two lakh farmers and 59,352 hectares of agricultural land have been affected. Crops affected in rains and floods include ginger, rubber, turmeric, mango, coconut seedlings, banana, pineapple and tapioca.

P.Prasad, State Agriculture Minister told BusinessLine that farmers in the State could get assistance both for crop loss and natural calamity.

According to K.N.Raghavan, Executive Director, Rubber Board, heavy rains in October and November affected production adversely. This created a crisis for consuming industry also as the months from October to February, the peak months for production.

“We are optimistic that overall production will be better than what was achieved during 2020-21. With some good fortune we should be able to come close to the target of 7,80,000 tonnes for this year,” he said.

Raghavan, also holding the additional charge of Tea Board, pointed out that tea production has declined by approx 15 per cent in October and 25 per cent in November in Kerala due to rains. However as Kerala contributes only 4 per cent of overall tea production, the impact of this will not be significant at national level, he said.

Damage in TN

In Tamil Nadu, standing agricultural crops on 1.45 lakh acres and horticultural crops on 6,000 acres have been submerged in water after heavy rain lashed several districts of Tamil Nadu, agriculture minister MRK Panneerselvam said last month. The full damage is yet to be assessed.

Samba (August-September) and Thaladi (September-November) paddy on five lakh acres in the Cauvery delta, including Nagapattinam and Thanjavur, have been affected badly, President of the TN Federation of All Farmers Associations, PR Pandian, was quoted recently in the media.

Oilseeds

BV Mehta, Executive Director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, said no sizeable damage has been reported due to rainfall as far as the oilseed crops are concerned.

“I don’t see reports of damage to the standing crops much. There could be some damage in some pockets like in Karnataka or in Tamil Nadu. It may not be sizeable,” he said.

As far as rabi crops are concerned, the recent rainfall has helped major rabi oilseed crop such as rape-mustard seed.

Mahesh Puchchappady, General Secretary of the All-India Areca Growers’ Association, said the recent unseasonal rainfall has made a huge impact on the harvesting and drying of arecanut in many parts of Karnataka.

He said the harvesting of the arecanut crop was delayed in many cases leading to the fall of the nuts from the trees. Those who managed to harvest arecanut were not able to dry them in the sunlight due to the rainfall almost every day.

There could be around 20 per cent of the crop loss due to the lack of proper drying of arecanut. Flowering of arecanut plants would also be affected, he said.

In Telangana, farmers' leaders alleged that the State government is not properly assessing the damage. "It needs to assess the damage, prepare a report and send it to the Union Government to seek compensation. But unfortunately, the State Government is not acting swiftly," K Ravi of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, said.

However, the excess rainfall is expected to result in better rabi production, particularly mustard and chana, while leaving the reservoirs with better storage position for the next kharif sowing.

(With inputs from Vishwanath Kulkarni, Bengaluru; KV Kurmanath, Hyderabad; Radheshyam Jadhav, Pune; Shobha Roy, Kolkata; Rutam Vora, Ahmedabad; Sajeev Kumar V, Kochi; AJ Vinayak, Mangaluru; TE Rajasimhan and Subramani Ra Mancombu, Chennai)

Published on December 09, 2021

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