India - Kharif sowing is off to a weak start with extended dry spells and floods

24.06.2022 321 views

From floods in Assam to heatwaves in Punjab, India has experienced extreme weather conditions in the last few months. 

Many places in Karnataka, including Bengaluru, suffered large-scale destruction caused by heavy pre-monsoon showers in May. 

On the other hand, in Maharashtra, people have faced a severe heatwave, droughts in the Marathwada and Vidarbha region, three cyclones on the Konkan coasts in the last two years, unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms.

“The kharif sowing has been affected because of a dry spell and the extreme rainfall in the Northeast areas. In the rest of the country, the sowing is in the process. I think it may be too early to work out what kind of loss we might witness but there is a cause for worry,” said Devinder Sharma, agriculture trade policy analyst in a press conference.

Following the extreme heatwaves, monsoon has been delayed in Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Due to this, sowing windows have been altered and it has been a weak start to Kharif sowing. 

Assam farmers’ summer paddy season is affected

It is before the beginning of the monsoon season, around May end to early June, that kharif crops are sown. They are harvested after the monsoon ends in October. 

Rice, maize, pulses such as urad, moong dal and millets are among the key kharif crops. 

The sudden pre-monsoon floods affected farmers in Assam who were waiting for summer paddy or Boro rice crop to ripen. Since floods are common in the state, farmers tend to harvest their crops before June. The untimely floods this year have wreaked havoc on agriculture.

The floods have coincided with the sowing period of Kharif crop and harvesting of Rabi crop. 

“In Maharashtra, there has been a drop of 41% as far as the rain is concerned, and in the eastern areas, there has been a huge flooding and 4.7 million people have been affected by the floods. This variability in rainfall dispersal has an impact on food production. Sowing intensity gets affected, while increased humidity levels lead to several diseases,” said Sharma.

Adding to this, Sharma said that it is too soon to assess the crop loss in Assam but he is optimistic that India’s supply chain will remain mostly unaffected.

“Whether the basis will zoom up or not, I think I'm not hoping that the prices will go up much because we have comfortable food stocks with us,” said Sharma.

As per Assam State Disaster Management Authority, nearly three lakh people have been affected by an acute shortage of food, clean drinking water and medicines as almost the entire Silchar town is submerged in flood waters.

Over 99,026 hectares of crops have been damaged so far. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Assam had lost ₹1,000 crore just to crop damage, which had affected 2.8 lakh hectares of farmland across the state, as per an IANS report.

The average annual loss due to floods in Assam is to the tune of ₹200 crore and particularly in 1998, the loss suffered was about ₹500 crore and during the year 2004 it was about ₹771.00 crore. 

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