News / Asia

In India, Scant Monsoon Rains Raise Concerns for Farmers

Commuters travel through a flooded street after heavy rains at Guwahati, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, June 26, 2012.
Commuters travel through a flooded street after heavy rains at Guwahati, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, June 26, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
NEW DELHI — Scant monsoon rains have raised concerns in India, one of the world’s biggest producers of food crops such as wheat, rice, and sugar. India’s farmers depend heavily on the annual rains to water their land.

The weather office says rains have been 30 percent below average in June over most parts of India.

As a result, the sowing of summer crops such as rice, cotton and sugar cane has been delayed in key food-producing regions of the country.

Meteorologists are holding out hope. They say rains this month could help bridge the shortfall.

But officials say contingency plans will be in place in case the monsoon does not pick up pace over the next two weeks.

“As of now there is no reason to believe that something adverse is happening, though I believe the agriculture ministry always takes precautionary steps,” said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, head of the Planning Commission.

Those precautions include drawing up plans to shift from crops such as rice and sugar that need abundant water to less thirsty ones such as beans and wheat.

The four-month June to September monsoon season is tracked closely because nearly 60 percent of the country’s farmland is dependent on rain.

India is the world’s second biggest producer of cotton, sugar, wheat and rice. It exports some of these crops, but also has a huge population to feed.

Economist D.H. Pai Panandiker heads the independent policy group RPG Goenka Foundation in New Delhi. He says concerns over the monsoon come at a critical time when the government is already battling high inflation and a slowing economy.

“Food inflation even now is something like 10 percent. If we have on top of that shortfall in agricultural production, I am sure that the food inflation will be pushed up further to about 15 percent or so,” Panandiker noted.

While consumers may be faced with higher prices, a deficient monsoon will not impact food security because bumper production of wheat and rice during the last two years means that India has adequate buffer stocks.

But prospects of a poor crop could prompt the government to limit exports. It could also lower rural incomes and hamper efforts to rev up economic growth.

While much of the country is parched, abundant rains in the north east have caused severe flooding in Assam, killing scores of people and displacing hundreds of thousands. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the eastern state on Monday to extend the federal government’s support in relief and rehabilitation efforts.

”We will ensure adequate quantities of food grains and other essential commodities are available in the state and that agricultural seeds required for replacement purposes are also available,” stated Singh.

Although agriculture accounts for just 15 percent of the country’s economy, it is crucial because nearly two thirds of the country’s one-point-two billion people depend on the sector for their livelihood.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid