News / Asia

    India Confronts Possibility of Drought

    Indian women laborers return after a days work at a paddy field. Indians have been desperately waiting for the long-delayed deluge of this year's monsoon, July 24, 2012.
    Indian women laborers return after a days work at a paddy field. Indians have been desperately waiting for the long-delayed deluge of this year's monsoon, July 24, 2012.
    Anjana Pasricha
    NEW DELHI — India is bracing for a drought in parts of the country, as monsoon rains continue to be scant. It is expected to hit food production and bring hardship to millions of farmers in the country.

    Satnam Singh Behru was cheerful as he planted paddy seeds in mid-June on his seven-acre farm in Patiala district in the northern Punjab state - known as India’s bread basket. The weather office had forecast a normal monsoon, raising hopes of a plentiful harvest.

    But, six weeks on, Behru is worried. Monsoon rains have been erratic.

    He says he has to pump water from underground wells to prevent the saplings from withering. But his village gets power for only a few hours a day, so he has been buying diesel to run generators. That adds huge costs.

    Behru has drastically scaled down expectations of his crop yield and his income.

    Monsoon rains, which irrigate more than half of India’s farms, have been deficient by 20 percent. Some key food-producing regions have fared worse, not even getting half the normal rains.

    Farmers are staring at parched fields in Gujarat and Maharashtra and in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. These are top producers of cotton, oilseeds and sugar - all crops sown in the summer season.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the government is ready to address the situation. The government says it is increasing the supply of electricity and diesel to northern states. Farmers are being given high yielding seeds to replant their fields.

    India’s huge buffer stocks of wheat and rice also mean that the availability of food grain will not pose a problem, despite low production.

    The weather office also gave some cause for optimism on Thursday, saying rains will improve in the coming days.

    Still, worries are mounting about the impact of the erratic monsoon. Although the farm sector accounts for just 15 percent of India's gross domestic product, it sustains two-thirds of the nation's 1.2 billion people.

    Farm analyst Devender Sharma, in New Delhi, says some of the parched regions, such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, have a high incidence of poverty.

    “The year of drought means that the rural economy goes back by at least three years. Which means the brunt is being borne by the farmers. That is a cause for worry. It reduces the average income. Their entire economic cycle is dependent upon what happens in the monsoon season,” said Sharma.

    Food inflation, already high, is expected to rise further if the monsoon does not revive next month.

    The government has also said it will review its export rules for farm goods next month. India is the world’s second largest producer of wheat, rice and sugar. Lower production could prompt a ban on exports.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora