Friday, October 30, 2009
India has begun importing rice to counter an expected large shortfall in production following the driest monsoon season in nearly four decades, the Press Trust of India said Thursday.
The move to import rice comes amid government fears that output will fall short by up to 16 million tonnes in the world's second-largest rice producer and follows years of bumper output.
"About 400,000 tonnes of rice has already been imported by traders and the figure is going to go up," the news agency quoted a leading exporter, who did not wish to be identified, as saying.
Rice prices in the domestic market have soared by about 25 percent in the last four months on supply worries.
India, which has nearly 1.2 billion people, suffered the driest monsoon since 1972 that affected rice-producing areas of the country.
The rice crop was later hit by widespread flooding.
The news agency said purchases from overseas markets by private traders would increase in coming days as the government had abolished customs duty of 70 percent.
India produced 99.2 million tonnes of rice last year.
Agriculture Ministry Secretary T. Nanda Kumar said earlier in the week that the government would not import rice but that it had created an opportunity for private traders to do so.
The Federation of All India Rice Millers Association General Secretary Sushil Kumar Choudhury said some traders in southern India have contracted to import rice in huge quantities from rice-producing countries like Thailand.
"Prices in the global market flare up when India decides to enter the import market," said Gurnam Arora, joint managing director of leading basmati rice exporter Kohinoor Foods.
"The import should be done secretly. Otherwise exporters would take advantage of it," he told the news agency.
There was no immediate comment available from the government.
The US Department of Agriculture said in a report Thursday that rice output in India could fall by up to 17 million tonnes.
Familiarity breeds contempt. This is what happening in the case of rain, as Chennaiites, who were desperately hoping for the opening up of sky in the last one month or so, are now seeing the otherside of it.
Though the rain brought relief to the residents, who were reeling under the scorching sun, intermittent showers in many parts of the city and its suburbs last night uprooted around 20 trees besides injuring a man.
At the Public Works Department Quarters in K K Nagar, a huge tree fell on one Nehru (37). With heavy injuries on one of his legs, he was admitted to a private hospital.
Rain played havoc at the Ashok Nagar police station, a few yards from K K Nagar, as the wireless system got damaged after a lightning strike. Following this, the police station was isolated from the network for the whole night.
The case was no different in other parts of the city too, as waterlogging was the order of the night in streets including arterial roads in many areas. As a result, this morning, office-goers on vehicles and students had to suffer a lot.
Besides, around 20 trees were uprooted in places like Virugambakkam, K K Nagar, Boag Road, Kodambakkam, Egmore (where a car was smashed near Rajarathinam Stadium), L B Road and Thiruvanmiyur. Meanwhile, the Met Office today predicted more rains thanks to the onset of the northeast monsoon.
'Heavy rainfall is expected in coastal Tamilnadu and Puducherry. More rain is in store,' an official told News Today.
Presence of mist was reported from certain parts of the city, although the Met department ruled out its possibility. On Wednesday, Chennai recorded a minimum temperature of 22.8 degree Celsius. In Chennai city and its suburbs, during the next 48 hours the weather will be generally cloudy with one or two spells of rain or thundershower.
About 48 per cent of the State's annual rainfall of 945 mm is received during this season, according to reports
The north-east monsoon has set in over coastal Tamil Nadu and the larger peninsular India at least a week late than normal, India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced on Thursday.
The north-east monsoon has been active over coastal Tamil Nadu during the 24 hours ending Thursday morning, according to an update from the Chennai Met Centre.
Strong northeasterly to easterlies currently prevail over peninsular India. An almost contiguous pair of troughs of lower pressure (not amounting to a `lowpressure' area) over southwest Bay of Bengal off south Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka coasts and southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood is driving the winds.
TO FURTHER STRENGHEN
Guidance from the numerical weather products indicated further strengthening of easterly and northeasterly winds.
Satellite imagery on Thursday showed convective clouds over parts of south Andaman Sea, southwest Bay of Bengal and southeast Arabian Sea. An IMD outlook valid until October 31 indicated the possibility of scattered to fairly widespread rainfall over south peninsular India during the next three days.
Meanwhile, true to forecasts, a new typhoon, named Mirinae, is currently stalking the west Pacific waters. Classified as Category-2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity (154 to 177 km/hr), Mirinae is approaching the storm-battered Philippines for a landfall by late night on Friday.
The London-based Tropical Storm Risk Group, as do most storm tracking models, indicate that Mirinae would slid into the South China Sea, retain typhoon status, and head straight west for a second landfall over Vietnam/ Thailand around November 2/3.
Here, the system is likely to face a barrage of opposing westerlies associated with a westerly trough dipping low over mainland India and heading further eastward.
Mirinae is seen not making much headway either with its onward push across Indo-China into the adjoining Bay of Bengal. Instead, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) predicts a `ripple effect' being generated over downstream southwest Arabian Sea in the form of a low-pressure area.
Predictions for the week from October 29 (Thursday) to November 5 by the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) favoured the possibility of strong northeast monsoon activity along the Tamil Nadu coast, the southern peninsular tip, parts of the Kerala coast and Sri Lanka.
The following week (November 6 to 14) is likely to witness a blow-up in accumulated rainfall over the southeast Tamil Nadu coast, west and northwest Sri Lanka, the Palk Straits and the peninsular tip.
Meanwhile, cyclone phase evaluation modelling by three major players - the NGP model of the US Navy, Global Forecasting System by the NCEP and the Canadian Meteorological Centre - indicated the formation of a weather system to the southeast of Sri Lanka around Friday.
It is forecast to track west or west-northwest into equatorial Indian Ocean and adjoining southwest Arabian Sea. This could ultimately set up the `low' over southwest Arabian Sea as has been forecast by the ECMWF.