The rain deficiency is likely to affect Maharashtra’s agricultural output this Kharif (autumn harvest) season. Alarmed, the state government may resort to cloud seeding if the rain continues to be scanty.
Cloud seeding is the spreading of dry ice or silver iodide aerosols on the upper portion of clouds to stimulate precipitation and, in turn, rainfall. Silver iodide encourages the growth of new ice particles that lead to rain.
According to official statistics released on Wednesday, only 21 per cent of the state’s farm area has been sowed so far. The dams have accumulated just 11 per cent of their total storage capacity.
The issue was debated fiercely in Wednesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. Most ministers wanted Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to approve cloud seeding, especially in dam catchment areas. “We will wait a week before trying this option,” Chavan said.
Cloud seeding has had a checkered history because it’s not clear if a seeded cloud would have given rain anyway.
The government made provisions for seeds and fertilisers as per projected demand, but there have been few takers due to the rain delays.
“We need more rain to for more farm land to be sowed,” said Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat.