Having suffered four drought years in the last half a decade and more, Bihar may be staring at yet another drought this year, if predictions of delayed monsoon and deficient rainfall, made by weather experts hold water.
According to experts, the meteorological conditions at Kerala coast, which observes monsoon showers first in the country, are not favourable for monsoon at present. This means, other parts of the country might experience delayed or weak monsoons, or both.
“It may be too early to predict a drought in Bihar. But, the nonfavourable conditions in Kerala are definitely a cause for concern to this state, whose agriculture is monsoon-based,” said secretary of Indian Meteorological Society Pradhan Parth Sarthi.
He said it was necessary to keep a watch on monsoon conditions between June 15 and July 15, when paddy is cultivated in fields.
Explaining the cause of droughts, he said, “Droughts happen when monsoon currents are weakened by descent of convectional currents, which form due to El-Nino phase and increase in sea surface temperatures.”
“In Bihar, droughts result from deficit monsoon rainfall and lack of development of low pressure, rainfall-causing monsoon depressions in the Bay of Bengal. Districts lying south of the Ganges are more prone to droughts, as they have lesser rivers,” he said.
Anticipating a dry spell, the state agriculture department is readying itself to minimise crop damage this year.
“Last year, monsoon hit Bihar in August. This delayed cultivation of rice and hurt productivity. While we hope to avoid drought this year, we are gearing up to minimise its effects, if it does impact,” said director (agriculture) Dharmendra Singh.
“This includes providing diesel subsidy to farmers for irrigation and implementing crop diversification schemes. We will also provide seed variants and kits for ‘arhar’, maize, ‘bajra’ and others, which are not affected by less rainfall, for free distribution or at subsidised rates”, said Singh.
“Seeds that endure short, medium or long spells of drought would also be distributed as per need,” said Singh, adding, “We recently went to Delhi to discuss drought contingency with the Centre. In the next one week, we will be conducting assessments and, if needed, roll out the necessary steps to countreract a potential drought condition,” he added.