Unseasonal rainfall may cast long cloud over rabi crops in India

Spurts of heavy unseasonal rainfall coupled with high winds and hailstorms in north India this week, along with a forecast of more showers and storms in the days ahead, have put the rabi crop at risk.

Crops such as wheat, maize, mustard and pulses, particularly chana, that are most severely affected are being harvested in large quantities and still lie strewn in fields open to vagaries of nature raising fears of increasing rural distress.

Unruly weather conditions can affect the quality of grain. Officials are monitoring the situation because rainfall and hailstorms on the eve of the harvest can damage crops severely.

It usually takes 10 to 15 days to report damage caused by sharp weather changes. So far, the impact of rain and hail has been limited in some parts of the country.

The India Meteorological Department has forecast fairly widespread rainfall along with gusty wind are very likely in some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh in the next three days because of a series of rain-bearing weather systems.

Wheat procurement in India however, is likely to surpass the target set for the public distribution system despite crop damage caused by strong wind and rains in the cereal growing belt in North-western region this week.

A higher yield of wheat this rabi season is expected to boost the grain procurement in key wheat growing states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

India’s federal agencies are expected to procure 70-80 per cent of the 320 lakh tonnes of wheat for the public distribution system in 2018-19 marketing season at a fixed price from farmers.

A better yield this season is expected to boost output and government procurement.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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