With different agencies showing divergent predictions regarding the southwest monsoon, the central government and states are gearing up to face adversity with various line ministries reportedly being directed to undertake mock drills and hold preparatory meetings.
Around 56 per cent of the net cultivable area of the country is rain-fed, accounting for 44 per cent of foodgrain production. The June-September rains contribute around 73 per cent of the annual precipitation.
Sources said a series of meetings are being held with the main line ministries including agriculture, food, water resources, home, railways and also earth sciences to ensure better coordination and synergy in operations.
States that are likely to be affected the most in case of deficient rainfall are also being roped in. They are being asked to revisit their district and block action plans and update mitigation measures, sources said.
A few years back, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare through ICAR-Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) formulated District Agricultural Contingency Plans (DACPs) for 650 districts for implementing location specific interventions to sustain agricultural production in the eventuality of extreme climatic events.
These plans are district level contingency road maps containing integrated information on agriculture and allied sectors, for example, field crops, horticulture, livestock, poultry, fisheries, etc, and technological solutions for all the major weather-related aberrations, including extreme events.
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“These action plans are being updated and reviewed,” sources said.
That apart, the ICAR has developed and released 158 drought tolerant varieties and hybrids of different crops that will also be promoted extensively.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its first monsoon forecast for 2023 has said rains this year will be ‘normal’ at 96 per cent of the long-period average (LPA), while private forecaster Skymet said it would be ‘below normal’ at 94 per cent of the LPA due to the emergence of El Nino.
The LPA for the June-September period between 1971 and 2020 is 87 centimetres. Both the forecasts have a model error of plus or minus five per cent.
IMD will come out with its region-wise forecast for later this month.
Both the agencies also seem divided over the date of onset, with the IMD saying it would be delayed by three days, while Skymet said it would come around June 7 as against the usual onset date of June 1.
Meanwhile, sources said on the preparations, states already have funds allocated to them through the state disaster relief funds for taking immediate relief measures
Additional financial assistance, over and above the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) will be considered from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for natural calamities of severe nature and will be approved on the basis of memorandum received from state governments in accordance with established procedure.