Met dept’s ‘above normal’ forecast brings cheer to farmers
With the national weather forecaster predicting above normal monsoon, farmers can look forward to a good harvest this year. Though, the data released by India Meteorological Department (IMD), which has predicted an excess rainfall range (104-110), also raises concern over the episodic extreme weather conditions resulting in floods. Notably, the country had last witnessed “excess” rainfall in 1988.
While releasing the long range weather forecast for the season, a day after private forecaster had predicated above average monsoon, IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said, “Monsoon will be 106 per cent of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of ±5 per cent. There is 94 per cent probability that monsoon will be normal to excess this year. By and large, there will be fair distribution of monsoon across the country.”
Elaborating on the good factors for above normal monsoon, Rathore said, “The El Nino conditions over equatorial Pacific Ocean that emerged in April 2015, intensified in July, and peaked in December 2015. Thereafter, the El Nino conditions started weakening even though sea surface temperatures over the ocean are still normal.”
He further added that at present Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are prevailing over the Indian Ocean and the latest forecasts from the Monsoon Mission Coupled Climate Model indicate positive IOD conditions.
Nonetheless, the monsoon forecast has brought cheer to farmers. Reacting to the forecast, a farmer from Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra, Ganesh Nanote said, “Since Maharashtra is a drought affected state, better rain prediction would give farmers hope. We have been witnessing poor rainfall for the last two years, hope the met predictions prove correct, else it’s going to be very tough for farmer.”
Another farmer from Uttar Pradesh Vinay Kumar has also expressed satisfaction over the Met predictions. “The better rainfall will encourage farmers to sow kharif crops on a larger scale in the state. Monsoon in the past two years has been dismal. Hope it’s different this time.”
Talking to Millennium Post, farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait said, “About 60 per cent of the country’s population is heavily dependent on the monsoon as only 40 per cent of the cultivable area is under irrigation. It’s a positive forecast, which will help in addressing farmer woes.” “Farmers are currently engaged in cutting and threshing of wheat crop and are planning to sow rice, wheat, jowar and bajra this monsoon. The sowing of sugarcane has already started in some places,” he added.
Interestingly, Minister for Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan was conspicuous by his absence at the IMD press briefing, which is the first positive weather forecast since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power in May 2014.
The government’s official forecaster also predicted good rainfall for drought-hit Marathwada as the rain-parched area is also likely to receive “better” rainfall, while Tamil Nadu will get deficient rainfall this year. Anything less than 90 per cent of the LPA is termed as a “deficient” monsoon and 90-96 per cent of the LPA is considered as “below normal”. Monsoon is considered as “normal” if the LPA is between 96-104 per cent of the LPA. “Above normal” monsoon is between 104-110 per cent of the LPA and anything beyond 110 per cent of the LPA is considered as “excess”. Due to poor monsoon in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), 10 states had declared drought and the Centre sanctioned a relief package to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.