India stares at huge agrarian crisis

 
The Centre is in a tight spot with little option as the rainfall shortage happened at the peak of the kharif season. For ten consecutive weeks since June 1, neither the whole country nor its four distinct homogeneous regions—northwest, northeast, central and peninsular India—received positive rainfall barring a couple of occasions.

Only for two weeks ending on July 22 and July 29 did central India receive little positive rainfall. But barring those two weeks, every week in each and every category, all southwest rainfall figures are in the negative though some of the figures do fit into Indian Meteorological Department’s “normal” category that range from minus 19 to plus 19 per cent of the regular rainfall qouta.

As on August 5, the country as a whole is 25 per cent short of its regular monsoon quota with the maximum shortage observed in the northwest (minus 40 per cent) and northeast (minus 36 per cent).

The situation is tad better in peninsular and central India with 18 and 13 per cent deficiency respectively.

In the wake of such a grim scenario, the chief secretaries will discuss steps required to address the deficient rainfall situation and ensure better supply of fertiliser, water and power to farmers with their central colleagues on Saturday.

Severe impact

The crucial July rainfall—absolutely essential for kharif cultivation—was 19 per cent deficient for the country with maximum shortage of 33 and 39 per cent reported respectively from the northwest and northeast India. 

The deficiency has severely impacted paddy cultivation in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam. 

Sixty seven per cent of districts—358 in total—received either scanty or deficient rainfall till August 5. Pawar informed the Lok Sabha on Friday that the Prime Minister would also hold a meeting of the chief ministers on August 17 to discuss the agrarian crisis and price woes.

“The situation is serious. The government has taken the entire situation very seriously,” Pawar said as he outlined the steps that the Centre took in the last few weeks to tide over the crisis.

On Saturday each state will be allowed to make a presentation highlighting the agriculture situation, including steps to be taken by them. Soaring prices of essential commodities and preventing hoarding by private traders will also be discussed.

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