MP farmers claim 40% crop loss, may sue IMD for ‘failed’ monsoon forecast
Farmer bodies in Madhya Pradesh have claimed that around 40% summer crops, especially soyabean and pulses, were lost soon after they were sowed in early June because of poor monsoon rainfall, forcing the farmers to resow the crops.
The farmer leaders blamed the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for the loss saying their forecast on monsoon rains was wrong. The IMD had predicted good monsoon rainfall in Central India in months of June and July following its quick progression but a close to 20 day break in the weather system’s progress caused a long heat wave in the region instead.
According to IMD, 31 districts of MP are facing more than 20% rainfall deficit compared to July average and in Panna district, which comes in arid Bundelkhand region, the rain deficiency is up to 50%. The most affected districts are in south- eastern and northern MP, the weather department’s monsoon tracker shows.
“Initially, we faced the crisis of soybean seeds but we managed by purchasing it at a much higher cost. IMD scientists predicted the arrival of the monsoon by June 20. We sowed the seeds but the monsoon didn’t arrive. Again they forecasted good spells of rain in July first week, July 12-15 and on July 19-20. We are still waiting for it,” said Bhagwan Meena, a farmer from Sehore.
Rice, maize, pulses and soybean are most popular Kharif crops in MP and out of the total sown area of 15.3 million hectare, farmers sowed soybean in about 5 million hectare land.
The farmers’ association said they would be filing a Public Interest Litigation to seek IMD’s response over its failed rainfall prediction.
“Our whole planning of crops depends upon [correct] forecasting of weather. We are [not] expecting 100% or 90% accuracy, but we can at least expect 60-70% accuracy. Most of the farmers in MP sowed the crop between June 20 and 25 but even after one month they are waiting for the rains. Due to the deficient rainfall, a plant which should start flowering has not even grown a bit. Some are on the verge of dying,” said Anil Yadav, state president, Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Bharat Singh Bais, spokesperson, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, said the IMD should be more responsible with its predictions. “We are going to file a PIL to know the reason behind IMD’s failure in forecasting weather correctly,” he said.
Not only farmers but a weather forecasting expert also questioned the IMD.
Retired IMD scientist Shailendra Nayak said, “Global warming, and changes in weather conditions are behind poor forecasting of weather. Indian scientists need to change the study pattern and adopt some new models as their predictions are failing. Even when I was with IMD, I was facing challenges in forecasting due to some undefined conditions in satellite images. A new study should be done in this regard.”
However, IMD scientist and forecasting officer from MP, GD Mishra said, they didn’t have enough to make 100% accurate weather prediction but were still giving their best. “IMD released a warning to farmers not to sow seeds in June so why did they do so. Farmers shouldn’t make an issue of everything because weather conditions are changing due to global warming. It is an international issue.”
Farmer welfare and agriculture minister Kamal Patel refused to comment on IMD and said all help was being provided to farmers.
“The farmers have two more months for growing a summer crop but if they face any damage, we will hold a survey and provide compensation. We are also improving irrigation capacity in MP so that farmers’ dependency on rains could be reduced to some extent,” he said.