ERRATIC DISTRIBUTION

Some northern and north-western states have received excessive rains, while southern and eastern regions have been unusually dry.

Only a third of the country has received average rainfall so far this season, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. Meanwhile, about 34% of India has received deficient rains and 32% excessive rainfall, the data shows.

States such as Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan received nearly double their normal rainfall so far this see

ason. Jharkhand, Bihar, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Kerala have received up to 41% less rainfall than normal.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON SUMMER-SOWN CROPS?

The sowing of rice, cotton, oilseeds and pulses has gained momentum in the past fortnight after a slow start but plantings still lag last year’s progress.

Heavy rainfall has damaged newly planted rice crops in northern states such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and many farmers may have to replant.

On the other hand, scant rainfall has delayed the planting of rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, groundnuts and pulses in states including Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Sugarcane growers in top producing Maharashtra and Karnataka states are also worried that scant rainfall during the crop’s crucial growth period could trim yields and reduce sugar output.

WHICH CROPS ARE MOST AFFECTED?

Rice, vegetables and pulses are significantly affected by the uneven rainfall distribution.

Paddy fields in northern states have been submerged for over a week, destroying newly planted seedlings, and forcing farmers to wait for waters to recede so they can replant.

In other major rice-growing states, including West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, farmers have prepared paddy nurseries but have been unable to transplant the seedlings due to inadequate rainfall.

The area under rice cultivation had been expected to increase after New Delhi raised the rice purchase price, but industry officials now estimate a marginal decrease. Farmers so far have planted paddy rice on an area 6% smaller than in 2022.

Vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum and spinach are also affected by erratic rainfall distribution. Standing crops in northern India have been damaged by floods, while southern planting has been delayed. As a result, prices of certain vegetables including tomatoes have hit record highs.

The planting of pulses, a crucial protein source for India’s large vegetarian population, has also been delayed.

Pulses are predominantly rain-fed crops, and delay will likely lead to lower-than-normal yields.

So far, pulses have been planted on an area 13% smaller than last year, according to data compiled by the farm ministry. Soybean and cotton planting areas are down by 2% and 12%, respectively.

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