As half of the country’s farm output comes from crops planted during the first half of the June-September season, deficient monsoon rainfall in June is causing concern among farmers. Plantation crop cultivators and paddy farmers are a worried lot.
Agriculture meteorologists say that it is high time to have climate change adaptation strategies to mitigate the ill-effects of weather aberrations. According to agriculture meteorologist Prasada Rao of Kerala Agriculture University, plantation crops and paddy will be the worst affected in case of deficient monsoon.
By the end of June, the first month of monsoon, the rainfall deficiency in the state is 31 per cent. However, Rao expressed the hope of good rainfall in July. “The trend shows that July rainfall can make up the deficiency in June rainfall,’’ he said.
Prof M S Subramonia Iyer, retired associate director of research at KAU, said that this year the cropping season in the state has not been appropriate due to the delay in monsoon onset and break and unreliability of rainfall.
“There is 52 per cent deficiency in the rainfall received in the state up to the weekend on June 13. However by the end of next week on June 20, the state got 24 per cent excess rainfall. The next week, there was again 24 per cent deficiency in rainfall by June 27. These shifts indicate a phenomena called Break Monsoon,” said Iyer. “The drop in rainfall and its distribution as well as break monsoon may affect vegetable and fruit production of the state significantly,’’ he added.
Paddy, black pepper and cardamom farmers are the worst-affected. Plantation farmers in Idukki say there will be 30 per cent decline in the production of cardamom as there was deficient rainfall during the flowering period of June. A 25 per cent dip in the production of black pepper is also expected. Production of cashew, coffee and tea are also expected to show a decline. Crops such as coconut and banana are susceptible to pest attack in this weather conditions.
“Farmers who have directly sown rice crop in the virippu season (kharif crop) by May 25 expecting rains in the first week of June will be affected. As there is less rainfall during the week ending June 13, June 20, and June 27 this year, the probability of loss is more. This has resulted in shifted crop calendar and sowing windows, land preparation and transplanting,’’ Iyer said. Iyer was instrumental in the preparation of district-level contingency plans for agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries sectors of all the 14 districts of the state last year.