India: Monsoon revival brings mix of misery and cheer for farmers

  • The southwest monsoon has entered a vigorous phase, soaking dry fields in central and western India and filling up depleted reservoirs, but unrelenting showers have swamped farms and plantations in the south and may cause yet more damage in other regions in the next two weeks.
  • The surge in rainfall in the past week after an erratic two-and-a-half months has cheered farmers in many parts of the country, particularly rain-starved soybean farmers in central India, but brought misery to Kerala, where the worst deluge in almost a century has destroyed half the cardamom planted and damaged plantations of rubber, coffee and several spices.
  • Floods have submerged crops in smaller pockets in other parts of the country but Indian Council of Agriculture Research director general Trilochan Mohapatra said that damage was not significant.
  • Rainfall is expected to be heavy in the next 10 days and the late-season threat of El Nino, which involves warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has also ebbed because the rain-threatening weather phenomenon is no longer expected to take hold in Sep 18.
  • The widely cited Australian weather office said in its latest fortnightly assessment that El Nino may strike in Dec 18, well after the monsoon season ends in Sep 18.
  • The India Meteorological Department has issued a forecast for heavy rainfall in many parts of peninsular India, particularly the coastal districts, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha for the next three to four days.
  • Agriculture ministry officials said farming overall was in sound shape across the country. The June-September monsoon is the main source of irrigation for farmers and key to ensuring the health of the rural economy ahead of the 2019 general election.
  • The recent rains have helped farmers in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, said Prerana Desai, head of research at Edelweiss Agri Value Chain.
  • The monsoon is 10% below normal after a strong start followed by a 10-day break in Jun 18 and patchy rain in Jul 18 but recent showers have increased reservoir storage by 5% y/y.

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