A “normal” monsoon and adequate water in major reservoirs nationwide, coupled with more money to agriculture, have set the stage for a record agricultural output of 270 million tonnes—2% in excess of the government’s target—for the kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) crops of 2016.
With the southwest monsoon officially withdrawing this week, water available in 91 reservoirs nationwide is 25% more than the amount available in October 2015, according to Central Water Commission data, except in Karnataka and Gujarat, which face more than 20% deficit in seasonal rainfall.
Against the government target of 132 million tonnes, India is set for a kharif output of 135 million tonnes, according to preliminary government estimates; the previous highest was 131 million tonnes in 2011-12.
A third of India’s districts were faced with deficient rainfall in the June-August period, asIndiaSpend reported in August 2016; it now appears that Karnataka and Gujarat will be hardest hit, according to this October 2016 report Monsoon Granular Review by CRISIL, a research agency.
A “double whammy”—three-year successive years of deficient rainfall and poor irrigation facilities—makes 13 districts in the two states the worst affected in this “normal” monsoon season, the report said.
Agriculture reviving, but households may suffer
The four-month monsoon season ended within normal limits of (+/-) 4% of the 100-year average. The actual deficit was 3%—India received 97% of normal rainfall in the June-September period—diverging from the prediction of 6% excess rainfall forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) as the monsoon began.
The 91 major reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission are at 75% capacity, equaling the average availability of last 10 years.
“The share of distressed districts in all-India kharif production is just 1.7% but the stress to agricultural household incomes could be high because a quarter of the kharif production in Karnataka and a third in Gujarat comes from the distressed districts,” the CRISIL reportsaid.
Even with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Kerala getting less-than-normal rains, adequate irrigation facilities will ensure that these states are not affected as much as Karnataka and Gujarat, the report said.
With the exception of some districts in some states, the picture for India’s agricultural economy looks positive due to the fact that the sowing of the summer crop has crossed the end-of-September average sowing of 102.5 million hectare to reach 107.1 million hectare.