Anuradha Bali hogged limelight after her marriage with Chander Mohan. After remaining incommunicado for several days, the couple resurfaced after embracing Islam and Bali changing her name to Fiza and Chander Mohan to Chand Mohammed
This year’s monsoon continues to play truant and therefore calls for extra precautions to be taken because of its unpredictability and turn of events
While some parts of the country are facing a drought situation, we have many rivers in the north that are flowing above the danger mark causing flash floods and the death toll is over 30, affecting the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Evacuation of people in the affected areas is underway!
Reports from Australia indicate that El Nino is picking up steam. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology in its latest El-Nino wrap-up has said that the Pacific remains at “values near the threshold of an El Nino event” and that climate models say could be reached only by late winter or spring.
Thus this year’s monsoon continues to play truant and therefore calls for extra precautions to be taken because of its unpredictability and turn of events.
The government, faced with this grim situation, is taking various steps in several directions.
States like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh have received ‘advisories’ on the kind of seeds to be sown, altered sowing plans and conservative use of water. For instance, coarse rice would be replaced by short duration varieties of Basmati rice for several districts in Punjab; these varieties take less time to grow and may be less yielding also. Rice is a monsoon crop but under the circumstances one has to make a choice in the type to be sown.
The government is keeping a close watch on the onion crop under cultivation. It may be recalled that last year, the ban on export was lifted when onion farmers refused to bring the goods to the market due to falling prices and there was a general uproar by the public. Onions and potato prices are the barometers that strike the aam aadmi, both for price and availability.
The government has banned the export of edible oil in consumer packs to facilitate domestic supplies, considering the poor monsoon and its effect on the oilseeds output. Groundnut sowing has also been affected in Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra and this is likely to cause price rise in groundnut oil production.
Should the rainfall deficiency continue, chances are that India may also lose its position as the second largest cotton exporter in the coming season, starting in October, on weak global demand. In 2011-12 Indian exported 10 million bales of 218kg each which may fall to 9 million bales this season. Brazil and Australia may reap the benefit of India’s loss in this field.
In monsoon affected areas, there is one more danger that is likely to cause irreparable damage, that of migrating farm labourers to the towns and cities nearby in search of employment. Even during the normal ‘monsoon’ years, this phenomenon of a labour migration has been growing despite the existence of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in the different states. Generally such farm hands do not want to return to the villages!
A permanent solution to these problems is necessary. The price that a city dweller pays for the crop is three to four times more than the meagre amount that the farmer actually gets, and it is the middlemen who make all the profits in the multiple stages of transactions that occur. There has been some relief in the participation of leading business houses, like Reliance Fresh, Spencer’s, Tatas and so on, but it would be far more effective and useful if these establishments were to take the lead in setting up huge warehouses at agricultural output points not only to collect the produce at ‘fair’ prices, but make available ‘credit’ facilities to the farmer in terms of “seeds, fertilizers, agricultural implements, machinery and educative campaigns” so that the actual farmer is benefited.
These will be first of the many steps that can be taken to eliminate the village moneylender and other middlemen who suck the blood of the farmer.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
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