A delayed and deficient monsoon has hit sowing, leading to concern over food production even as authorities have their fingers crossed on reservoir levels that may be affected because of scattered rainfall.
While north and south Karnataka have received good rains, the coastal and Malnad regions are yet to get proper showers, which could potentially affect reservoir inflows, according to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) director G S Srinivas Reddy.
Kharif sowing stands at 11% as against 25% so far. Only 8.49 lakh hectares have been covered against the targeted 76.69 lakh hectares. By now, sowing should have happened on 19.47 lakh hectares. Food crops like tur, jowar, paddy and ragi are far below the normal sowing rate. But commercial crops and oilseeds are slightly better off, data show.
“If the situation continues, then the total area of sowing and food crop production will be hit. But there’s still time because sowing happens actively in the second week of July in central Karnataka and other parts,” agrimeteorologist M B Rajegowda said.
“Sowing starts now only in parts of north Karnataka and the Old Mysore region,” he explained. Copious rainfall has improved the situation in north Karnataka, KSNDMC’s Reddy said.
“But inflow into reservoirs will be a concern if rains don’t pick up in coastal and Malnad regions, where there is a 45% rainfall deficit,” he pointed out. There is a “moderate to light” rainfall forecast for the coastal and Malnad regions. “That will not be enough,” Reddy said.
“We need heavy rainfall in these regions, at least 700-800 mm in June alone.”
Water levels in the state’s major reservoirs are not encouraging. Not a single one is full and their live storage capacity — the amount of water that can be used — is lower than what it was in the corresponding period last year.
The onset of the Southwest Monsoon is delayed by at least a week. So far this month, Karnataka has seen a 31% deficit in rainfall.
The state is reeling under drought, with 1,890 villages facing a water problem that the government is addressing by hiring over 2,000 tankers and borewells.