Delayed monsoon will ruin crops in West Bengal

June 27th, 2009 - 1:03 pm ICT by IANS  

By Aparajita Gupta
Kolkata, June 27 (IANS) West Bengal is fearing the adverse effect of a delayed monsoon, which may affect crops like paddy, jute and potato.

Normally, the monsoon lashes Himalayan and Gangetic West Bengal around the first week of June. But this year, the monsoon is yet to hit the state, even more than a fortnight after it usually sets in.

Though the met office has forecast monsoon rains within a few days, the farmers - already badly hit by cyclone Aila a month ago - are keeping their fingers crossed.

People in agricultural produce business are also tense. Delayed and little monsoonal showers will affect the output of food crops, cash crops and vegetables, making it a nightmarish year for the farmers.

“Delayed monsoon will affect crops throughout the country. In West Bengal it will affect the boro paddy crop. It will also affect jute, which has already been sowed,” state Agriculture Marketing Board chairman Naren Chatterjee told IANS.

The state produces major crops like rice, jute, tea, potatoes, oilseeds, betel, vine, tobacco, wheat, barley and maize.

“If the monsoon arrives late, it will also extend beyond the normal months. Then it will affect potato farming. Potato plants are sowed in the month of October and November. If the agricultural production is hampered, price rise is imperative. Agricultural labourers are also not getting work due to delayed rains,” Chatterjee added.

The change in the timing of the monsoon is due to the climatic change happening all over the world and it would take sometime for the researchers to plan a “cropping sequence” to match the new weather profile.

“This type of climatic change is very new. Not only the delayed monsoon, last year we have experienced a different winter season. We plan crops according to the climate graph of a place studied over a period of time. Since this type of weather trend is very new, we are yet to get a clear picture of the graph and decide the crops accordingly,” Shantanu Jha, professor in the Agriculture Entomology department of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, told IANS.

He also said this type of weather is making the researchers shift their focus on temperature insensitive crops, that is, various hybrid varieties as that can be grown under artificial conditions at times.

Jha said delayed monsoons are not e new phenomenon. But erratic conditions are making the whole situation complicated making it difficult for everyone to plan crops accordingly, he said.

“This delayed monsoon will affect the crops across the country. In our country, monsoon dependence of agriculture is very high. Till a few years back, also there was a direct relation between good crops and high economic growth in the country till we embarked on the journey of globalisation,” Abhirup Sarkar, professor of economics, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) told IANS.

He said globalisation has changed this equation now.

“But unfortunately, with the recent global recession, dependence on global economy has shrunk and more emphasis is given on the domestic market. In such a scenario if the rainfall is less, it will affect the economy to quite some extent,” Sarkar added.

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