The arrival of monsoon may have lent relief in the air, but that is just a whiff as far as the Central government is concerned. Staring at a “deficient” monsoon with prediction of rainfall falling lesser by 12% to the normal, the government is looking for the contingency plans.
On Friday, the Union Agriculture Ministry made an announcement that in case of deficient monsoon, the farmers will be provided subsidy on diesel, power and seeds.
“We will offer subsidy on diesel, power and seeds to farmers like last year to deal with drought-like-situation,” Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told the press after holding a meeting with the senior officials of IMD at New Delhi.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), earlier in the week had revised monsoon forecast to “deficient”. The announcement has triggering fears of drought for the second year in succession. The officials from power, water resource, rural development, food and fertiliser ministries too were present at the meeting convened by Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
Claiming that the government is “fully prepared to face drought-like situation”, the Agriculture Minister said that a nodal officer has been appointed in every department to deal with deficient monsoon situation.
According to ministry officials, the Centre may continue Rs 10 per litre diesel subsidy this year as well. The subsidy on seeds could be up to 50 per cent under different schemes and free power could also be given to farmers for irrigation.
Earlier this week, the minister had said that the Centre is ready with contingency plans for 580 districts and is in touch with various States and farm research bodies to tackle any adverse situation.
The minister further added that a new crop insurance policy will be brought in this year to protect farmers’ income.
On June 2, the Met Department revised its forecast from 93 per cent to 88 per cent Long Period Average (LPA), with north-west region of the country expected to be hit the most. The monsoon rains are especially vital for the rural economy as three-fifth of India’s population of over 1.2 billion depend on farming for their livelihood.
Last year, the country had received 12 per cent less rains, which had severely hit the production of grains, cotton and oilseeds. Due to poor monsoon, agriculture growth stood at a shockingly meagre 0.2 per cent in the 2014-15 fiscal.