Drought worries ease

 21 Jul 2014 - 5:40

A man lies on a heap of fodder, which was removed from a sugarcane field, on a cart pulled by a bull in Muzaffarnagar in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh yesterday. With this year’s monsoon rains several weeks late, the world’s second-largest sugar and rice producer is on the verge of widespread drought in the face of a developing Pacific Ocean weather event known as El Nino, which is often associated with drought in South Asia.

New Delhi:  The spectre of drought looming over parts of the country has receded over the past week due to the revival of the monsoon but officials are keeping their fingers crossed as a long dry spell in between the rains can damage crops and lead to inflationary pressures.
Officials said that many states in central and northwest India, which account for a sizable production of pulses, oilseeds and coarse grains and were “highly deficient” in rainfall, had seen “good rains” over the past few days.
Agriculture ministry officials said the Met department has predicted good rains in the coming days but a dry spell for a fortnight or so during the remaining days of the monsoon can be damaging for the crops.
“We have turned away from a possible drought situation (due to rains over the past week). The IMD prediction for the next two weeks is quite positive except for peninsular India. But the monsoon period will last for another two and a half months. If there is a long dry spell, that will impact (the crops) negatively,” a senior agriculture ministry official told IANS.
The official, who did not want to be named, said that farmers were sowing crops in areas where rainfall had been delayed and the next 15 days were important for “strengthening of crops.” IANS