Country’s grain-bowl areas going to be hit badly, worries of food inflation rise
GN Bureau | June 2, 2015
India's northwest region which includes Delhi, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are going to be affected by ‘below normal’ to ‘deficient’ monsoon. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has revised its monsoon rainfall forecast from 93 to 88% and this means the annual rainy season will be below normal to deficient.
Rainfall of less than 90% is considered to be a drought year. The latest prediction, however, has an error margin of 4 percentage points either way. The monsoon is now expected to hit the Kerala coast by the June 4, three days after its normal onset date.
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Last year, the country had received 12 per cent less rains, which hit production of grains, cotton and oilseeds. According to the Met department this year drier conditions are set to be more acute in the grain-bowl northwest and central India, compared to the south and northeast. Drought-like conditions fan food prices, often worsening shortages of items such as pulses, onions and cooking oil.
The government has stock of rice, wheat and sugar but it has limited means to control prices of fruits and vegetables.
Agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon as only 40 per cent of the cultivable area is under irrigation. Agriculture growth stood at 0.2 per cent in 2014-15 fiscal. According to the government's estimate, total food grains production has declined to 251.12 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from a record production of 265.04 million tonnes in 2014.
A poor monsoon could mean the Modi government would have to concentrate on mitigating its effects rather than focusing on reforms.
The rainfall is crucial for power, drinking and irrigation. A bad monsoon hits power production since hydropower accounts for a quarter of India’s electricity output.
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