Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)
Untimely rainfall puts India’s winter crop harvest in jeopardy
India’s winter crop harvest faces possible devastation following untimely rainfall and hailstorms that have affected the country’s key winter crops, including wheat, canola and chickpeas.
According to Reuters, the adverse weather conditions looked set to compound problems for farmers, who were already dealing with the effects of heat stress on some of their crops.
The news agency reported that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had in March warned key growing states that they might receive more rain and hailstorms towards the end of that month. This could curtail production and lift food inflation, which the government and central bank had been trying to contain.
A drop in wheat production would make it difficult for the capital New Delhi to replenish inventories, while lower canola output could force India, the world’s largest buyer of edible oils, to increase imports of palm oil, soya oil and sunflower oil, Reuters reported.
“Rainfall and hailstorms are raising concerns, since the harvesting of winter crops [has] just started,” Harish Galipelli, director of ILA Commodities India, said.
Hailstorms and wind speeds of more than 30km/h threatened states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra, the IMD stated.
Speaking to Reuters, farmer Ramrai Bohara from Rajasthan, India’s biggest canola-producing state, said winter-sown crops were already under stress from above-normal temperatures.
The temperature in some wheat-growing areas climbed above 39°C in early March, almost 7°C higher than normal, IMD data revealed.
Rainfall would not only reduce yields but could also reduce the quality of the harvest, a Mumbaibased dealer told Reuters.
Meanwhile, grain and oilseed crops across Asia were expected to face hot and dry weather, with meteorologists predicting that the El Niño weather pattern, the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, would develop in the second half of the year, threatening food supplies.