CHENNAI: In its 2016 SouthWest Monsoon (SWM) forecast, the Indian Meteorological Department has predicted ‘above normal’ rainfall for the country.
The period June to September is referred to as the SWM period, wherein major parts of the country receive as much as 75 per cent of total rainfall.
According to the IMD, if the quantum of rainfall is around 90-96 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA), it could be ‘below normal’. The monsoon is considered ‘normal’ if rainfall is between 96-104 per cent of the LPA.
As per the LPA calculated for Tamil Nadu, the State is normally scheduled to receive around 321.2 mm during SWM season. Last year the State, on average, received 286 mm, a deficit of around 10 per cent.
Commenting on the forecast, S B Thampi, deputy director general, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, said, “When SWM is active over the rest of the country, Tamil Nadu doesn’t receive that much rainfall.”
Explaining the phenonmeon, Thampi said, “Tamil Nadu is considered as a rain shadow region as we lie on the eastern (leeward) side of the Western Ghats, a mountainous range which obstructs the moisture laden clouds. Hence one would notice Kerala, where the monsoon first makes landfall, receives maximum rain.” Dismissing any apprehension over the ‘below normal’ forecast for Tamil Nadu, Thampi said there is nothing to fear for now, as even 80-90 per cent of rainfall during SWM season can be considered “okay”, for the State usually gets its maximum annual quota from the North East Monsoon.
As a vital tool to leverage better monsoons, a ‘Good Weather Code’ has been recommended by eminent agricultural scientist professor M S Swaminathan to reap the benefits of above-normal monsoons.
Following the Indian Meteorological Department’s prediction, he has suggested that the code be developed and implemented at panchayat levels across the country.
“Since the prediction for the forthcoming monsoon is good, we should initiate immediate action to prepare a Good Weather Code which will help us optimise the benefits of good rainfall,” he said. The Good Weather Code, he explained, involved action on mobilising the necessary good quality seed resources and required soil nutrients.
“Pulses and millets which require less water and which are nutritious can be the crops of choice both from the point of view of nutritional needs and climate resilience,” he reasoned.
According to Swaminathan, the Good Weather Code could be prepared at village levels and popularised through trained climate risk managers.
Maximising the benefits of good monsoons and minimising the adverse impact of unfavourable weather were the two key strategies he suggested for sustainable agriculture.
“The preparation of Good Weather Codes with farmers’ participation should be completed by April so that it can be implemented from May,” added Swaminathan.