HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Centre bucks up to combat poor monsoon, plans relief measures

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 02, 2014
First Published: 01:55 IST(2/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:59 IST(2/7/2014)

The agriculture ministry has readied proposals for the Cabinet’s approval to cope with poor rains, with June recording the lowest rainfall in five years and farm minister Radha Mohan Singh saying on Tuesday that parts of west India may face drought-like conditions.

The monsoon, 42% below normal so far, is expected to pick up pace in July — the most crucial month for farm operations. The Centre might clear drought-mitigating incentives in the next two weeks if the spread and quality of showers does not improve, an official said.

“Western India is expected to be the hardest hit and may face drought-like situations in some areas,” Singh said, adding that a pick-up in July could offset losses.

The ministry has concluded inter-ministerial consultations for six broad steps for which cabinet approval will be sought.

The steps include increasing the limit on cash incentives for seeds to help offset farmers’ losses due to re-planting or a changeover to drought-tolerant varieties. The steps also include provisions to make available cheap diesel since farmers use motor pumps to draw water when rainfall is patchy.

The government is likely to reschedule farm loans and bear a part of the interest in all drought-hit areas.

A special scheme for perishable crops is under consideration, while additional funds will be allocated for cattle feed in rainfall-deficit states.

The farm ministry has proposed investing more money under two successful food-growing programmes, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the national mission on sustainable agriculture.

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