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India - IMD predicts near-normal monsoon in September, allays fears of crop damage

After heavy rains in August and amid fears of another year of possible loss of crops like soyabean and tur in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted near-normal rains for this month, potentially saving the kharif crops from any large scale damage. If the prediction comes true, India will reap the benefits of higher acreage and well-distributed rainfall with a bumper production.

“September will have near normal rains and definitely will not be as good as August,” said MN Rajeevan, secretary in ministry of earth sciences. He also said that due to Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) turning negative, the La Nina effect on Indian monsoon will be neutralised. Positive IOD, a weather phenomenon measured on basis of sea surface temperature in Indian Ocean, helps monsoon precipitation while a negative IOD lowers the rainfall.

The country had received 27% above normal rainfall in August, the highest since 1976 for the month. After its onset on the normal schedule of June 1, monsoon this year covered the entire country on June 26 earlier than normal of July 8. The weather bureau has predicted this year seasonal rainfall to be normal and quantitatively 102% of the long period average (LPA) of 88cm, with a model error of ±4%. The rainfall between 96% and 104% of LPA during June-September monsoon season is considered ‘normal’. Monsoon rainfall across the country has so far been 108% of LPA since June 1.

Farmers were worried in central and western regions due to excessive rains last month. The Central India region comprising Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP, Chhattisgarh and Odisha had received 61% above normal rains in August. A similar rainfall in these areas last September had damaged crops, particularly in soyabean. The production of soyabean dropped nearly 8% to 12.24 million tonne in 2019-20, even though there was higher acreage, y-o-y.

“Last year, September had experienced heavy rains during crop maturity and harvest time that caused large scale damage to soyabean. The prediction of a normal rains will definitely aid the crop,” said DN Pathak, executive director of Indore-based Soybean Processors Association. The current kharif sowing of crops like pulses, coarse cereals, cotton and oilseeds is almost over while paddy planting may go on for another few days. The acreage of all the crops is higher than their year-ago levels due to well distributed rainfall.

“The excessive rainfall in August over Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha was mainly due to five low pressure systems over north Bay of Bengal which moved westwards up to Gujarat/Rajasthan. Besides, as many as 27 days of the month were under the low pressure influence whereas about 55 days normally received in the entire four-month season,” said M Mohapatra, director general of IMD. Currently, the ENSO conditions in the Pacific Ocean is cool and it is likely to get cooler in the coming days, he added.

Farmers have helped the country to achieve record acreage of 109.54 million hectare under all the crops this season, until September 4, despite the Covid 19 impact on many other sectors. Except jowar, bajra and ragi, the acreage of all other crops has exceeded the normal area (previous five years’ average). Paddy is a notch below normal level of 39.7 million hectare which will be most likely covered this week. The final sowing data for this season will be released next month. Last year, the country had produced record 295.67 million tonne of foodgrains comprising rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses.

Source – https://www.financialexpress.com

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