Wednesday, March 25, 2015

20% Rabi crops lost to Untimely Rains

20% Rabi crops lost to Untimely Rains
Even as prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a fervent defence of the land acquisition bill in his monthly radio programme ‘Maan ki baat’, it is becoming clear that hundreds of farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and parts of western Uttar Pradesh have suffered heavy rabi or winter crop losses due to spells of unseasonal rains, hailstorms and gusty winds over the past few days.
While the Ministry of Agriculture is assessing the extent of the damage to the standing rabi crops such as wheat, oil seeds, pulses and vegetables, the agrimet division of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said there would be 10 per cent drop in production. Analysts also said the minimum loss in rabi crops yield would climb up to at least 20 per cent.
The main rabi crops such as wheat, oil seeds, pulses and vegetables and fruits: grapes, mangoes, bananas, orange, apples, cashews, strawberries and mulberries have been damaged. However, this time we could predict inclement weather five days in advance to reach 80 lakh farmers across India through SMS via our kisan portal and other media agencies to take precautionary measures to contain damages.
Agriculture Ministry reports showed that standing crops in over 50 lakh hectares of land in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and West Bengal were destroyed.
This year the production of rabi crops would be down in the 10-20% minimum range as even government agencies in various states are assessing the extent of damage.
Because of this, the commodity market saw upper circuit movements in most of the traded rabi crops. The main rabi crops, which are widely reported to be under damage, are wheat, mustard and chana. Fruit and vegetable prices have also surged 15-50 per cent in many parts of the country.
Analysts said rabi accounts for 51 per cent of the country's grain output. Further confirmation of damage this has come in the Assocham-Skymet Weather joint report which while forecasting a normal monsoon across the country in 2015, said the damage to rabi crop due to unseasonal rains shall continue with a major spell of rainfall expected next month in north India, especially in the first week of April.

The agriculture sector, which contributes about 15 per cent to the country’s GDP but employs more than 50 per cent of the population, is highly dependent on monsoon rains as about 60 per cent of the cultivable area is rain-fed. The chance of a back-to-back drought is three per cent (2014 was a mild meteorological drought). Besides, there is still no clear signal about the emergence of an Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) this year during monsoon.
Last year, India faced 12 per cent deficient rainfall at the end of the four-month-long south-west monsoon season, which begins with onset of rains in Kerala, usually on June 1 and ends on September 30.
According to government estimates, country’s foodgrain production is expected to decline by 3.2 per cent to 257.07 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from the record 265.57 million tonnes in 2013-14. On the unseasonal rains, the study said: “More wet weather was in the offing in April and the damage to the rabi crop would continue. A major rainfall spell is expected in the first week of April in north India.”

Meanwhile, with opposition mounting campaign against the land acquisition bill, the prime minister reached out to farmers, telling them that "lies" are being spread over the measure for "political reasons" to create confusion among the farming community.

Aware of the vast influence wielded by the farming lobby, Modi insisted there were some "lacunae" in the Land Act of 2013 "as it was enacted in a hurry" and these are being addressed while protecting the interests of farmers and villages.
Referring to his statement in Parliament, Modi maintained that the government is willing to provide compensation to those farmers who have been hit by unseasonal rains this month. During the 30-minute programme, he underlined that the new bill being brought by his government has the same compensation provisions as in the 2013 Act and emphatically rejected that the new measure was aimed at benefiting private companies.

He also said that 'no consent' provision in the proposed new law applies to acquisitions by government for government or PPP projects and insisted that the same clause exists in the previous act.

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