Agri Business

‘Just below normal’ rain forecasts no worry at all, says expert

VINSON KURIAN THIRUVANANTHAPURAM | Updated on March 12, 2018

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The ‘just below normal’ monsoon forecast by India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its updated long-range forecast is no cause for any worry on the farm front so long as the forecast figures hold good.

The deficit is manageable if one were to go by other relevant data and peer model projections, says Dr Akhilesh Gupta, leading operational forecaster and commentator and Advisor to the Department of Science and Technology.

“The second stage forecast comes at a time when the country has already notched up a rare 11 per cent surplus rainfall as on June 20,” Dr Gupta told Business Line.

Normally, June is known to precipitate only half as much of what is normally realised in July. So, an 11 per cent June surplus should straightaway knock off 50 per cent of the seven per cent deficit projected for July.

In this manner, July should not pause a major problem for farmers who may otherwise feel unnerved by the below normal forecasts for the rest of monsoon.

August projections of six per cent deficit also do not amount to a critical problem so long as it keeps within limits, Dr Gupta said.

What is important to remember is that a deficit/surplus of five per cent does not appear to have any pronounced impact on crops and by extension the country’s economy.

Established correlation between recorded rainfall and expect impact on crops is such that only deficit of 10 per cent and more would normally translated into significant losses on the farm front.

Here also, a caveat is in order. If one compares the recent deficit years of 2002 and 2009 with more than 10 per cent deficit in rainfall, the worst effected 2009 managed to emerge relatively unscathed than 2002 when the deficit was smaller.

This goes to prove the resilience the country has managed to build up over the years through increased adoption of technology and agro-advisories, which has stood it in good stead.

So, overall, the ‘just below normal’ forecast must not set off alarm bells in the economy unless the projected figures goes widely off the mark and in the negative.

Additionally, there is also the outside chance of a ‘normal to slightly above normal’ rains that several dynamic models have been predicting right from the beginning of the year and through the season.

Published on June 22, 2011

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