Surplus pre-monsoon falls ease monsoon worries, for now

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 17, 2015 01:48 IST

Good pre-monsoon showers— which have been either surplus or normal in nearly half of the country— have come as a boost for a crisis-ridden farm sector, bolstering prospects of sowing and easing some of the government’s worries.

The showers, aided by seasonal storms, have been sufficient to meet farmers’ requirements for planting key summer crops, prompting millions to head out to fields across states.

The rains have replenished 81 “nationally important” reservoirs critical for power, drinking and irrigation. They will help partially compensate for early deficits, should the monsoon be off to a poor start, an expert said.

“Pre-monsoon showers are equally or more important for crops, especially in a deficit year. They help prevent delays, ensure good early health of crops and make farmers depend less on the actual monsoon during sowing operations,” JPS Dabas, principal scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute said.

Dabas said the showers have enabled farmers to already sow coarse cereals, such as jowar and bajra.

India has officially predicted a below-normal monsoon. Good rains are especially critical this year, as the Modi government battles rural discontent, following crop damage and falling farm incomes.

In the week May 7-13, nearly 25% of the country received excess rainfall, according to government data, while another 20% of areas received normal rainfall. In all, nearly half of the country received good rains.

Yet, risks from a deepening El Nino, a weather pattern that can sap India’s monsoon, remain. “Pre-monsoon showers do not in any away alter the course of the actual monsoon,” said DR Sikka, a retired government meteorologist.

“While the monsoon remains a risk in 2015, there are mitigating factors. Water levels in reservoirs are a comfortable 113% of the last ten year’s average,” Rohini Malkani, a Citibank economist, said.


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