Uttar Pradesh is staring at a drought worse than last year’s, officials said on Thursday, raising worries of a severe impact on the kharif crop crucial to feeding millions of people in the country’s most populous state.
The state government has put 70 out of the 75 districts on high alert and also prepared a contingency plan after the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) forecast a below normal monsoon this year.
Last year, 44 districts were officially declared drought-hit after they received half of the normal rainfall during the monsoons.
Earlier this year, unseasonal rain and hailstorm in March-April destroyed vast swathes of standing crop in the state. The state government has sought Rs 7500 crore from the Centre to provide relief to the affected farmers.
Sources said a team of scientists from the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), Hyderabad will reach the state on May to 29 to discuss operationalisation of the contingency plan to stave off drought impact on crop and livestock.
Though the IMD is scheduled to make a state-wise forecast on drought only in the first week of next month, indications are that the eastern and the central UP may be the affected the worst by the dry weather, the sources added.
“Our contingency plan is ready to tackle any situation arising from a possible drought in the state,” agriculture production commissioner Anand Mishra said.
Deputy director, seeds, CK Srivastava said farmers were being issued advisory to switch to crops like pulses, millets etc that require less water.
The paddy has, however, already been sown on almost 40-50% of the total rice area in the state, sources added.