Farm crisis may deepen as drought looms over 225 districts

On the basis of a report issued by an Agriculture Ministry’s agency, Media recently reported that drought like condition prevails in 17 states and now the Ministry itself denies it by saying that there is no drought like situation

Farm crisis may deepen as drought looms over 225 districts

On September 10, Hindustan Times reported that drought conditions loom over 225 districts across India’s 17 agriculturally important states. The media report was based the findings of a New Delhi-based National Crop Forecast Centre, under the Ministry of Agriculture which releases the monthly National Agriculture and Drought Assessment System(NADAMS) report.

It is very interesting to note that today Agriculture Ministry issued a statement saying that news reports pertaining to drought warning for 225 districts in 17 States, are factually incorrect. The Ministry was denying its own findings! And also said, “ Though, there is deficit rainfall reported in 95 districts but sowing is normal and satisfactory.” 

The Ministry said that it has been monitoring regularly the agricultural situation in the States. During the current monsoon season, the monsoon rains have been normal. 
“ The overall rainfall in the country is in the category of normal (-6 percent). The monsoon season in the country is from 1st June to 30th September. Many States particularly, NE States are receiving heavy monsoon rains,” it said.

The Ministry claimed that the kharif crops coverage in almost all the states have been satisfactory and the rains during the period from 1-10 September, 2017 in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand have improved moisture in the soil. This wide distribution of rainfall has brightened the prospects of kharif production in current season. 

It was admitted that some areas experienced deficit rains after sowing of kharif crops. The states have already started assessment of impact of less rain in such areas. The Ministry  has already given advisories to the states for life saving irrigation, in case of moisture stress. 
The current rainfall in first fortnight of September in many States will improve the situation. The yield is expected to be same as of last year. 

Hindustan Times writes “ According to the government’s National Agriculture and Drought Assessment System (NADAMS) the affected districts include large agricultural areas in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The three states had announced farm loan waivers just months ago.” 

The newspaper has also quoted SS Roy, Director, National Crop Forecast Centre under the Ministry which releases the monthly NADAMS report. Roy said, “ “The number of districts with drought trigger 1 at the end of August was 225. The total amount of rainfall is good but dry spells have gone up sharply.” 

The NADAMS works like an early warning system for drought that alerts the states under which the affected districts lie. 

Rural Marketing View 

Farm crisis and farmers’ distress has put the Agriculture Ministry on defensive mode and the statement issued today only reflect negating a hard reality. Waring has been issued by  its own agency. Had it been issued by some third party or private agency, the government would have confronted that with strong opposition. It is high time to go real time check and monitoring instead of ignoring the warning. Average rainfall and near normal rainfall do not support the argument that ‘ All is well’  for the sector.

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BK Jha is the Special Correspondent of Rural & Marketing. Prior to this he has been associated with The Hindustan Times, Political and Business Daily along with many other media organisations.
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