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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid