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Country faces impending drought: PM

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that the country was facing a drought threat. India's vital monsoon rains have been 29 per cent below normal since the beginning of the June-September season. Full Coverage

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2009 13:15 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that the country was facing a drought threat.

India's vital monsoon rains have been 29 per cent below normal since the beginning of the June-September season, hurting crops such as rice and sugarcane and triggering a sharp rise in food prices.

"We are staring at the prospect of an impending drought," Singh told a meeting of environment ministers of states.

Monsoon rains have revived in the past few days, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, where the local government has declared a drought in the majority of the districts.

The weather office has forecast widespread rains in the key cane-growing areas in north and northwest India as well as the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the main soybean-growing region.

Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, said on Monday that the country needed to raise planting of winter-sown crops and improve irrigation to make up for the damage to farms.

Monsoon rains are vital for India's summer-sown crops such as rice, sugarcane and soybeans because the majority of the farmers do not have access to irrigation facilities.