It looks like an extended summer in the thick of monsoons in many a parts of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar among other regions this year.
Rainfall has been patchy in the near two-and-half months of the four month annual rainy season, triggering almost a near drought kind of a situation in many areas.
At a macro level for the country, though the cumulative rain deficit has reduced to just two per cent till date, about a third of the 717 districts are witnessing deficient rains, while two per cent have seen large deficiency. About 43 per cent of the districts have received normal rains, while the precipitation has been excess in about 16 per cent. Nearly 7 per cent of the districts, mainly in the northern hilly States have seen large excess rains.
In Kerala, the seasonal cumulative deficit so far, is at 43 per cent, while in Karnataka the shortfall stands at 11 per cent. While a delayed onset and progress of the monsoon is seen hurting the kharif crop outlook in several regions, the lower inflows into reservoirs and water bodies may emerge as the cause for concern in the days ahead, if there’s no improvement in precipitation levels. Live storage levels, mainly in Western and Southern parts of the country are lower than previous year, while in other parts better than last year.
India gets over two-thirds of its annual rains through monsoon and the dependency on storages for agriculture and to meet the drinking needs is on the rise. Amidst the onset of El Nino, which brings in drought across many parts of the world including India, any further shortfall in rains may spell trouble for the economy in general, while fuelling further food inflation increasing import dependency on farm produce. Such concerns may spill over to the next cropping season as residual soil moisture holds the key to rabi sowing.
Already due to the change in rainfall pattern, farmers are staring at the prospects of reduced yields on delayed sowing. They may be forced to spend more to the deal with the increased incidence of pest attacks and diseases amidst uncertainty in the output on rising instances of unseasonal rains during the harvest in recent years.
Proactive approach needed
With freak climate patterns and extreme events becoming a common feature, a pro-active approach is the need of the hour in leveraging technologies such as cloud seeding and weather modification that could help deal with emerging adverse situation.
With forecasts available from global and national agencies, taking up research, building infrastructure and keeping the machinery in ready state to take up region-specific interventions at short notice may become a necessity.