In alarming development, the monsoon forecast for India has been downgraded below the key 90% level. This is particularly significant as any number below the key 90% mark indicates drought like condition and raises fears of a perhaps one of the worst droughts of the decade.
The question therefore at this juncture is India already battling with the ravages of severe heat wave, ready to tackle the challenges posed by drought situation. Commodity prices like sugar are already rising in global markets in anticipation of lower output and limited supply. The unseasonal hailstorm and eventual delay has further worsened the agricultural outlook for the year. So what does all these indicate, do we do nothing and just prepare for more farmer suicides across the country? More importantly how can the Govt machinery work towards helping the citizens?
Though agriculture is not a big contributor to the overall GDP, just 15% of the country’s $2 trillion economy, a majority of Indians however is still dependent on agriculture as the chief source of livelihood. A rural slowdown does not spell catastrophe not just in terms of agricultural output but a decided slowdown in the overall FMCG market too. In an effort to stem this rural slowdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already asked ministries to prepare a contingency plan to deal with the low monsoon situation.
However till date the only conclusive comments thus far on the issue have been from the Minister for earth sciences saying, “let’s pray to God that the revised forecast does not come true.”
Perhaps it is high time the Govt machinery understood that mere prayers might be inadequate to deal with this crisis. The need of the hour is improved irrigation facilities, proper disbursement of food grains to keep inflation under control and perhaps take active measures in reining in agriculture dependant internationally commodities like sugar.
Also long-term measures to harvest rain water reduce the impact of global warming and improve the green cover along with constructive measures aimed at proper storage and disbursement of food grains need to be implemented on a war footing.