Even as the southwest monsoon shows little sign of improvement, the agriculture department on Friday expressed the hope that in the final analysis, the overall situation might not be as bad as 2009. However, there has not been much change in the areas of concern in Maharashtra, Kar-nataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan over the week ended July 27.
“I can say that we are not as bad as 2009, as of now. But, yes, the areas of concern in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karna-taka and Rajasthan remain as earlier. Of course, in the last few days, sowing has picked up even in these problem areas,” agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna told reporters on Friday. In 2009, India suffered its worst drought in three decades, that pull-ed down overall foodgrain production by around seven per cent.
‘Enough grain stock’
Even as the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is expected to meet early next week, to review the drought situation in the country, there is no need to panic on foodgrain, said K V Thom-as, the Union minister for food and public distribution.
As of Friday, the difference between normal area and actual area in paddy remained stagnant on a week-on-week basis, but the same has widened in case of coarse cereals and pulses, and narrowed in case of oilseeds and cotton, he added.
The normal sown area is the average area during the same period in the last five years.
He said the overall shortfall in southwest monsoon was expected to remain at 20-22 per cent for whole of July, and the monthly shortfall would be around 16 per cent.
“We must remember that in 2011, too, the July rains were bad,” Bahuguna said, adding, the water level in 84 major reservoirs across the country, which is a critical parameter to judge the health of sowing and extent of monsoon deficiency, is more than 2009, 2010, and even 2004 and 2002, at 24 per cent of full reservoirs level (FRL). 2002 and 2004 were drought years.
Bahuguna said, as per the latest information, the health of most crops was fine except in the rain deficient areas. “I expect some area to remain unsown in Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan,” he said.
He added the agriculture ministry would press for diesel and power subsidy to farmers in the forthcoming meeting of the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM). “I have also directed the states to use the dry areas in reservoirs to grow fodder,” the secretary said.