Monsoon: Continued vigilance is needed
The State and analysts must keep a keen eye on the monsoon because even a normal monsoon can be skewed in terms of geography and time, wreaking havoc on cropping patterns.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced on Saturday that the southwest monsoon had covered the entire country, nearly a week ahead of schedule. In the last two decades, there have only been five times when the advance of the monsoon has been quicker, IMD added. The southwest monsoon, which carries the bulk of the rainfall for the country, is not just the mainstay of agriculture, but also the economy. This monsoon is especially important for three reasons.
One, adequate rainfall is crucial to ensure a good yield of the kharif crop, especially paddy, to cool food prices and stabilise India’s food security programme. The winter crop of wheat was shrivelled by a heat wave in March, making the summer crop cycle even more important. At a time when the government and the Reserve Bank of India are fighting to control inflation, it will be crucial to see how the monsoon behaves spatially and temporally. Two, the Covid years have increased the importance of agriculture as an employer in the Indian economy. Farming was always the mainstay of the rural economy, but its share has expanded according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey data. Therefore, a shortfall in rainfall, and, consequently, crop yield, could have an adverse effect on rural incomes and demand.
And three, at a time when global food prices are at a lifetime high due to the in Ukraine conflict, the vagaries of the Indian monsoon could have global ramifications, pushing up prices further. The State and analysts must keep a keen eye on the monsoon because even a normal monsoon can be skewed in terms of geography and time, wreaking havoc on cropping patterns. Continued vigilance will be key.