Good News, At Last, on the Monsoon
After two successive droughts, the weather office has forecast an ‘above normal’ monsoon this year, which comes as welcome relief that would shore up expectations in agriculture and should consequently rev up rural demand and boost the overall growth momentum. The first-stage forecast of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is that rainfall during the southwest monsoon season of June-September is expected to be 106% of the Long Period Average (LPA). Note that 96-104% of the LPA is considered ‘normal’ and the IMD is predicting ‘above normal’ rains for the first time since 1999.
Also notable is the fact that the IMD expects well-distributed rainfall nationally. The Centre, meanwhile, has okayed the National Hydrology Project, which has an outlay of over .₹ 3,600 crore, designed to provide real-time information on water resources including on groundwater and facilitate their scientific, sustainable and more equitable management. The plan is that data from the National Water Informatics Centre would be seamlessly accessed by one and all in the village/district/state. The fact remains that there is a huge potential to conserve and economise on water usage. India uses two-to-four times as much water as China/US to produce one unit of major food crops. We also need to speedily diffuse drip irrigation systems and incentivise crop selection in each region to suit its agro-climatic potential: why grow water-guzzling sugarcane in water-scarce Maharashtra, when Bihar is so much better suited for the crop?
Besides, fruit, vegetables and livestock cultivation are all more relatively water-intensive. And as we cope with rising demand for the superior foods, we need to proactively improve water management, especially as the distribution of water resources is very uneven nationwide.