New Delhi, Sept. 21: Pulses of above average rainfall over the past four weeks have hoisted the monsoon from deficient to near-normal levels which agrometeorologists say might serve as a salve to a government embroiled in political trouble.
The cumulative 2012 monsoon rainfall has climbed from nearly 20 per cent below normal in early August to only five per cent below normal in September, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
Agrometeorological experts say the abundant rainfall over the past four weeks is likely to help both the kharif (summer) and the rabi (winter) crops and help India achieve the annual foodgrain targets despite a possible dip in kharif crops.
India’s grain basket states in the northwest received a bountiful 199 per cent above average rainfall in the past week under the influence of a monsoon that remained active north of its normal position for this period of the year.
“Such rainfall during September helps deliver and preserve extra moisture in the soil, which is good for the rabi crops,” said a senior agrometeorological scientist in a central government department.
“The late withdrawal of the monsoon is also going to help crops that were cultivated late because of the poor monsoon performance during July and August,” the scientist told The Telegraph.
The IMD figures show nearly three-fourths of India’s land area has received excess or normal rainfall since the beginning of the season, a dramatic change from early July when nearly 80 per cent of India had deficient or scanty rains.
“This will be good for farmers, for the public and for the government,” said Ranveer Singh, a senior agroeconomist at the Himachal Pradesh University. “The impact on crop yields is also expected to help curb inflation,” he said.
The weekly rainfall over India has been below average since the beginning of the monsoon season in early June, except for a single week in July, the last week of August and the three weeks of September.
The past week has received the highest weekly rainfall — 44 per cent above average. Scientists say the increase in the rainfall towards the end of August appears to reflect a shift in the pattern of monsoon rainfall.
A study of rainfall patterns between 1901 and 2005 by meteorologist Madhavan Rajeevan had suggested that, among other subtle changes, August has been receiving more rain over the past 30 years than in earlier decades.
Agrometeorologists caution that yields in some parts of India such as Gujarat and Marathwada, some parts of Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka are likely to see a dip because of overall poor rainfall.
“But even in these areas, contingency plans are likely to reduce the impact of water stress,” agrometeorological scientists said.
Contingency plans rolled out by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and agricultural universities involve crop management under water stress and the use of short-duration crop varieties that can help improve yields when rainfall is deficient.