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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More