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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid