Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The big monsoon letdown

Time has now run out to grow as much paddy as last year. If it’s any later, the quantity and quality will suffer.

Tuesday’s figures show that the monsoon in the main growing area, the northwest, is a huge 40 per cent below average.

In Assam, there is 66 per cent less rain than what it should be.

Clearly there is just not enough water to sow the crop. Sugarcane, pulses and oilseeds like groundnut and soyabean are equally badly hit.

BP Yadav, director of Met department, said, "The monsoon situation in north west remains a worry. Some parts have been good, but this region is far from making up."

Across India, the monsoon has been described as "erratic". Rainfall is 23 per cent below par and economists warn that these numbers could be devastating.

Besides, as production drops the fear is that the increase in food prices will impact the economy.

Prof GS Bhalla, an agricultural economist said, "If the agriculture production goes down, then it directly affects the income of the people, which means that demand for commodities goes down and the economy and GDP on the whole get affected."

However, the recent rain has meant India's top reservoirs have been filled to a large extent, thereby improving water supply and the power situation in some places. But even there, the levels are 27 per cent below normal.

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