After three droughts in last four years – 2012, 2014 and 2015 -, Shobhana K Patnaik, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare said that the monsoon this year is expected to be normal and directed states to chalk out plans to boost crop acreage and production in kharif season starting June.
“El nino condition is declining. It is expected that La Nina condition will takeover, and will perhaps favour a good monsoon this year,” the agriculture secretary said while addressing a National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign 2016.
The Meteorological Department is expected to release its monsoon forecast in the third week of this month, the secretary added.
India’s foodgrain production declined to 252.02 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from the record 265.04 million tonnes in the previous year, due to poor monsoon.
The output is estimated to rise slightly to 253.16 in the ongoing 2015-16 crop year due to 14 per cent less rains. Two consecutive bad monsoons have led to farm distress, water shortage and drought like conditions in many parts of the country.
The Secretary asked the state governments to make advance preparation for sowing of kharif (summer) crops like rice and pulses by making adequate availability of seeds, fertilisers, and other agri-nputs.
Less-than-normal rainfall in the last two years has left farmers and resources at stress. There is high moisture stress in soil, he added.
Even the Economic Survey in February had said El Nino, which is held responsible for extreme weather events across the country last year, is unlikely to repeat this year.
However, it had suggested that the government should still be ready with the contingency plan to deal with any eventuality besides announcing in advance the MSP for crops like pulses.