Rains may weaken again, paddy and oilseeds at risk
Monsoon rains may weaken again after the spurt in the past week, posing a risk to paddy and oilseed planting that had revived in recent days.
"Some models are indicating that the monsoon is likely to move northwards bringing dry spells in the north-western and central parts of the country. This may put a brake on the intense sowing activities in these regions , which had gathered pace last week," said a senior official at the weather office who did not want to be identified.
He said the expected northward shift in the monsoon system will increase rainfall in northeastern states, regions near the Himalayan foothills and some parts of south India, the official said. The India Meteorological Department (IMD), however, said rains are likely to be evenly distributed for the next five days.
"The monsoon should cover the entire country within its stipulated date of July 15. Rains are likely to be normal this week in most parts of the country. We can't predict beyond five days," said IMD chief Laxman Singh Rathore. The timing of the probable dry spell in the latter part of this month gains significance as the El Nino phenomenon, which upsets rainfall patterns, is expected to set in by August.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said on Tuesday chances are high that the El Nino phenomenon will emerge by August this year. The US Climate Prediction Center last week had said that El Nino may strike as early as the third quarter of 2012.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which is widely respected for its accurate prediction of the El Nino phenomenon, has predicted a strong possibility of the emergence of El Nino.
"If rains dry up for more than 10 days in the second half of July, then there could be concern over yield and total output. However, kharif crops unlike rabi have a larger crop window allowing speedy recovery once rains pour in," said Dr PK Joshi, director, South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute.
The rainfall deficit, which was at 31% at the end of June, has narrowed down to 25% helping farmers accelerate crop planting . Paddy sowing in bread basket states of Punjab and Haryana is likely to be completed by this week. Rains will be crucial for paddy cultivation this time even in the completely irrigated fields of the two states as water level in the Bhakra dam is barely 16% of capacity, down from 37% at the same time last year.
The condition is not different in other reservoirs in the country with four reservoirs in Karnataka and three in Maharashtra completely drying out. India's 84 main reservoirs are filled to 17% of capacity against 28% a year ago. Deficient rains in parts of Andhra Pradesh, interior Karnataka, Gujarat and western Rajasthan are causing concerns for crops like cotton, groundnut, coarse grains and guar which earlier this year had set the cash register ringing on the exchange.
"Insufficient rains in Rayalaseema , Karnataka and Gujarat may adversely impact the crops of cotton, groundnut, maize, ragi and sorghum. Crops like guar, bajra and pearl millet will also be badly affected if rains don't happen in western Rajasthan over the next 10 days. In the rest of the country, the situation is satisfactory as far as sowing is concerned ," said B Venkateswarlu, director, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture.
However, soyabean and pulses sowing is on track after rains hit central Madhya Pradesh last week. "Sowing is completed across 50% of the total area. It is well within the sowing window and we expect to cover the entire growing areas by July 20. If it rains favourably here after, there is likely to be no impact on the output due to delayed sowing," said Rajesh Agrawal, coordinator and spokesperson, Soyabean Processors Association.
DRY DAYS AHEAD
The El Nino phenomenon, which upsets rainfall patterns, is expected to set in by August rains will be crucial for Punjab and Haryana because water level has depleted in the Bhakra dam Weak rains are causing concerns for crops like cotton, groundnut, coarse grains and guar Soyabean and pulses sowing is on track after it rained in central Madhya Pradesh last week.