‘Cloudy with a Hint of Rain’

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Images – Courtesy Google

The weatherman’s forecast seems to be going awry. It’s bright shiny warm weather at the start of the first week of August! The regional weather warning bulletin is very quiet with a blank ‘Nil’! Rainfall forecast spells out weakly for the districts of Vidarbha – ‘in isolated places’. No agro-met advisories either. Highway forecasts get a clean chit.

It is worrisome for HERD Organic Farms manager Anil Khare. ‘Nine day gone by and no rains…’ he murmurs over lunch at the office café. After a seemingly stable start after mid-June the South-West Monsoon has suddenly stalled. This is now triggering concerns among the farming communities in the region who are getting affected in this rain-fed sowing season. Work appears to be at a standstill.

Even though HERD Organic Farm has secure, established water resource, the worried countenance of marginal farmers around us facing the unexpected deficit, thus far, has us concerned. We hope this is a passing phase and that soon enough the water laden clouds will spurt forth making August drench the fields to make them ready for cultivation.

Understandably the rainfall deficit as it enters the second week since July, may just be an unsuspected gap in the normally heavy rainy season that goes on until September. But now we see that contiguous districts in Vidarbha have been facing a shortfall by varying margins. Worryingly Vidarbha traditionally remains a water shortage area and we have often suffered consecutive droughts in past years. This deficit gap therefore leaves us all apprehensive.

The erratic monsoon may affect the sowing of key field crops such as paddy, pulses and more staple varieties of the season. The lack of rains appears to be going on. Farmers ready with seeds and saplings are getting nervous as there is little rain water and even reservoirs and canals have diminished levels. And therefore the sowing is getting affected with roughly only about 30 percent being done as against the norm of 51 percent that ought to have happened in this period.

The erratic rains could impact yields. Rainfall deficit of 30-40 per cent being witnessed is definitely a cause for concern. Besides affecting ground-water recharge, it will also affect cultivation. One can only wait and watch how the weather turns up.  Very light to moderate rainfall has been occurring in few places over Vidarbha. Also there has been no large change in maximum temperatures over Vidarbha.

We are therefore dependent on the rain gods to be merciful and pray that contrary to the meteorological department forecast of deficit rainfall, hopefully deficit districts in Vidarbha region will receive heavy showers before the end of this month. This brings us back to the moot enquiry as to whether Indian agriculture will forever continue to be dependent on monsoons!

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