Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rains and more rains...

It has been raining since morning.  Its also quite cool.  From the weather map in Business Line (August 21, 2010), it is clear that it will continue to rain in many parts of the country and more so in the Western parts.

Cloud formation suggests its going to rain heavily

Interestingly, Mumbai has received maximum rainfall (in mm) amongst all 23 weather stations reported by Business Line (August 21, 2010) in terms of departure from normal for the season, though it is No.2 (after Panjim) in terms of total rainfall received since June 1, 2010.

Station Max Min Rain Total rain Departure
Mumbai 29 25 10 2420 824
Panjim 30 24 6 2656 468
Ahmedabad 33 26 5 960 422
Hyderabad 32 23 15 581 193
N Delhi 28 26 110 576 128
Chennai 35 27 -- 318 51
Bangalore 28 22 -- 225 7

Ranchi 32 24 6 405 -379
Patna 33 28 -- 385 -270
Lucknow 32 25 35 420 -176
Indore 29 22 -- 481 -135
Trivandrum 31 24 -- 543 -100
Guwahati 33 26 103 769 -93
Kolkota 32 26 53 793 -51

[Note:  The columns show maximum and minimum temperature in Celcius, rainfall during last 24 hours and total rainfall in mm since June 1, 2010 and departure from normal for the season.]

The departure from normal for Mumbai also matches with the general observation of almost continuous rains since June 2010.

What is interesting is that Ranchi, Patna, Lucknow, Indore (if we can broadly read them as the old Bihar / UP / MP areas) show a decent deficit rainfall from normal.  Will this have an impact on the agricultural production?

Generally, Kerala and North East areas receive good rains.  The above table shows deficit rainfall for the season in both Trivandrum and Guwahati. 

Business Line's editorial (Furrows of worry, Business Line, August 16, 2010) comes to mind.
With nearly two-thirds of the southwest monsoon season behind us, it is time to take stock of the kharif crop situation. The news is at once good and disappointing from the point of view of overall precipitation and area planted. Although the all-India area weighted rainfall is still in negative territory as of mid-August, 28 of the 36 meteorological subdivisions have had excess (nine subdivisions) or normal (19 subdivisions) precipitation so far. But the disaggregated picture is somewhat worrisome. Even as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh as also Gangetic West Bengal face deficiency, Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Eastern Rajasthan, currently in the normal category, risk falling into deficient category. This raises the possibility of yield losses and the concomitant effect on production of cereals and cash-crops, although it may be premature to put a number on this.
In my school days, I used to read in text books that Indian agriculture is dependent upon monsoons.  A few decades down the line, it appears not much has changed at the ground level.  What has changed is that the population has exploded, joint families have split, flat culture has taken root, life styles have changed and requirement for more water has arisen.  Water table across the country has gone down and States fight with each other (eg Karnataka Vs T.Nadu; Kerala Vs T.Nadu) for water.  We would rather allow river water to go waste (into ocean) but won't allow it into neighbouring States! 

Crop cultivation patterns need to change in a very big way - it requires a big effort in educating the agrarian population to move away from crops which consume water in a big way into those which consume less water or use better methods (eg drip irrigation) of using water.  These steps would improve water table, reduce uncertainty of loss of crop - either due to inadequate rainfall or drought etc.

The rainy season is not yet over.  Hummingbird hopes that the deficit areas too receive rains, but not of the unseasonal variety and farming community doesn't suffer.