GUJARAT: Millions of Indian farmers are hoping rains will strengthen in the next two weeks so they can grow rice, soybean, cotton, pulses and some vegetables – summer crops that account for 7.5% of the country’s economy.
Farmers said the seeds have been sown but fear that germination might not take place as the rains are almost one month late.
“We are worried as rain has not yet arrived. The rain is almost one month late. Last year the rain has arrived around June 15.
“This year we have sown the seed in first week of June but it of no use because rain deprivation,” said a farmer, Vijay.
The four-month-long monsoon season started on a weak note as the annual rains arrived over southern coast about five days behind the average date of June 1.
Rainfall in June, the first month of the four-month monsoon season, was 43% below average across India, but more than 90% down in some states like Maharashtra and neighbouring Gujarat, top producers of cotton, soybean and sugar cane.
A poor monsoon season cuts exports, stokes food inflation and leads to lower demand for industries ranging from automobiles to consumer goods, while even a slow start can delay exports of some crops and increase the need for imports.
Small farmers are struggling to survive as erratic weather has hit their only source of income.
Worried to make both ends meet, a farmer, Chandu Bhai, expressed fear over drought like situation.
“We usually grow cotton and ground nut. We have sown the seed and there is no scope of rain. Cattle and farmers are going to suffer a lot this season,” he said.
Rains are forecast to gain momentum over most of the country early this month, but the farm minister said on Tuesday that a “drought-like situation might prevail in some pockets” of western India.
A prolonged dry spell could reduce crop yields and cut returns for farmers, many of whom take on debt to buy seeds and fertilisers. This could force some farmers to skip either a summer-sown or winter-sown crop. – Excerpt from DNA India