Crop contingency plans to tackle rain failure: Minister

New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) Amid forecast of deficit rains this month, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday asked farmers not to panic as contingency plans were in place to tackle any adverse impact of a likely poor monsoon.

“Farmers need not panic. We are ready with contingency plans to tackle any possible impact of poor rains on kharif crops,” he said while addressing state ministers on food inflation.

Radha Mohan Singh cited the government’s record of handling a poor monsoon situation and assured that “there is nothing to fear as of now”.

“There was a drought-like situation last year, and sowing area was down two percent because of 12 percent deficit rains.”

“We took effective measures to bring down crop damage.

“We are prepared for this year as well. However, I feel that the situation will not be that bad,” he said.

“So far, monsoon rains have been better than expected although there is a forecast of deficit rains this year too,” the minister added.

Long before the monsoon set in, the India Meteorological Department had come out with a dismal prediction that the southwest monsoon this year would be below normal, sending farmers in a tizzy.

Monsoon rains are crucial as 55 percent of cultivable land in the country still doesn’t come under irrigation.

Meanwhile, according to government data, area sown under pulses increased to 22.61 lakh hectares till July 3 of the kharif season — from 9.72 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

Acreage of oilseeds has gone up to 74.17 lakh hectares from 14.73 lakh hectares while that of paddy is up at 54.03 lakh hectares, from 53.56 lakh hectares a year ago.

Total area sown under kharif crops has climbed to 306.06 lakh hectares as against 194.25 lakh hectares in the period under review, the data showed.

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