As on August 8, the all-India rainfall was 10% below the long-period average (LPA). That’s the borderline for normal rains and a fall from here would mean deficient rains.
More worrying is the fact that distribution has turned patchy. Among key kharif-growing states, while rains have caught up in Uttar Pradesh, five states — Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Bihar and Gujarat — are 10-20% deficient.
That said, the rainfall volume data alone is not sufficient to assess the hydration math. For a comprehensive perspective on states and crops, there is a need to countenance the vulnerabilities that arise from inadequate irrigation.
CRISIL’s Deficient Rainfall Impact Parameter or DRIP, does just that.
The higher the CRISIL DRIP score, the more adverse the impact of deficient rains.
This week’s DRIP results highlight some stress in Madhya Pradesh, where rains are still normal (with deficiency of 9%). But given that irrigation is weak, it is likely to have impacted sowing.
Stress is also visible in Gujarat, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, where the DRIP scores are not only higher than in 2017 — which was a good rainfall year — but also above the average of the past five years. Broadly, therefore, these four states are seeing more stress.
By contrast, Bihar — where rains have caught up to an extent — has a higher score compared with 2017, but it is lower than the past average and hence stress is lower.
But the rainfall situation continues to evolve. July and August are critical to kharif crops, so a lot would depend on how the rest of August pans out.
The Indian Meteorological Department said August rains are expected to be better than its previous forecast.
The DRIP scores for three crops are higher, compared to both 2017 as well as the past five years. These are groundnut (cultivated in rain-deficient states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh), tur (Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat) and soybean (Madhya Pradesh).
Two other crops — cotton and rice — also show some stress, with scores lower than in the past, but higher than in 2017.