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Impending rains pose a risk to rabi harvest

Last modified March 14, 2016 16:08

Mint. New Delhi, 11 March 2016

After two back-to-back deficient monsoons and a warm and dry winter, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of heavy unseasonal rain and hailstorm in 14 states, which could pose a threat to the rabi (post rainy season or winter) harvest. The rainfall, which is expected to hit the states between 11 and 15 March, will be caused by an intense western disturbance currently lying over Iran. The states likely to be affected are Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Over the past week, the winter crops of wheat, chickpea and mustard have suffered some damage in pockets of states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. While rainfall in monsoon was 14% below average last year, winter rainfall has been 57% below average. “The western disturbance will bring copious amount of rainfall and we have advised farmers to take actions to protect their crops. But there is not much they can do to protect wheat and cereal. There are still some measures that can be taken to protect fruit crops,” said N. Chattopadhyay, deputy director general of the agricultural meteorology at IMD.

Some of the measures suggested for farmers include early harvesting of mature crops, keeping harvested produce in safer place and use of hail nets/caps to protect orchards from damage. Farmers in 15 states bore the brunt of unseasonal rain in March and April last year—just ahead of the winter harvest— which led to a 7% drop in wheat production in 2014-15 (compared to the previous year) and damaged crops of pulses, whose production fell by nearly 2 million tonnes. What’s worse, the freak rain was preceded by a drought in 2014, when the June to September monsoon recorded a deficit of 12%. This was followed by a second drought in 2015.

Source: Agriculture Today, AgriNews, <>

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