The monsoon deficit may have improved from minus 44 per cent to minus 33 per cent in two weeks, but it is still a big headache for farmers across the country. Sowing data from across the country shows a fall for crucial crops like rice and pulses in the kharif season.
A 33 per cent rainfall deficit for June this year is the heaviest in five years. The government says data received from 683 districts across India showed 71 per cent districts received either deficient, very deficient or no rainfall at all in June. In Uttar Pradesh, 54 of 75 districts have recorded deficient to extremely deficient rainfall, while six districts have no rainfall. The situation is rather worrying in western Uttar Pradesh, that saw a 62 per cent rainfall deficiency between June 1 and June 29, the highest deficiency since 2014.
The rain situation has already impacted sowing in the kharif season across the country. Ram Kali and Gudiya Devi, marginal farmers who live on the outskirts of Lucknow have already delayed transplanting paddy saplings into their fields, hoping the rains will come soon and make their lives easier.
"See, if the rains are deficient, it will push up costs by Rs 6-7,000. If it doesn't rain, I will need to use pumps for irrigation. I do not own one, I will have to pay for using the pump, and even pay for the water. If it rains properly I still need to use a pump because the rice crop is very water intensive. But in that scenario, I would need to use the pump for only Rs 2-3,000 worth. If I have to irrigate the crop multiple times using only pump water, that pushes up costs," explains Ram Kali.
According to data from the ministry of agriculture, the normal coverage area for the rice crop for this time of the year across the country should be 35.54 lakh hectares. But the actual pan-India coverage right now is 27.09 lakh hectares. Of the total 8.45 lakh hectares that are less, the highest area is in Haryana at 2.79 lakh hectare followed by Uttar Pradesh at 1.83 lakh hectares.
The data for pulses is even more worrying. The normal all-India coverage area for this time of the year should be 11.28 lakh hectares. The actual coverage is just 3.42 lakh hectares. Of the 7.86 lakh hectares that are less, the highest area is in Karnataka at 3.42 lakh hectares.
The good news that weather department predicts, the monsoon is in the process of intensifying and that the months of July and August will be better. Farmers like these across the country will hope this happens sooner than later.
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