Apart from India's northwestern region, all others witnessed deficient rainfall

Sanjeev Sharma

In August, the monsoon has fallen significantly short of the long-term average, registering a deficit of 30%, Motilal Oswal Financial Services said in a report. The southern regions of India, in particular, have experienced notably dry conditions.

After starting the month on a positive note with a 5% surplus due to a wet July, the monsoon took a downturn in August, with an overall deficit of 7% as of August 20, the report said. While the northwest (6% above normal) has received above normal rainfall, Central India (2% below normal), South Peninsula (13% below normal) and eastern and northeastern regions have witnessed deficient rainfall patterns (20% below normal).

El Nino has strengthened from a “weak” to a “moderate” state and the latest update from the US weather agencies said there was a 66% of it developing into a strong event later this year.

Kharif sowing as of August 18 stood at 0.1% higher than last year. The area under paddy cultivation is now 4.3% higher than last year. However, the area under pulses is still 9.2% lower than last year. Production of jute, cotton, and oilseeds is also lower. Coarse cereals (1.6% YoY) and sugarcane (1.3% YoY) continue to do well, the report said.

Above normal rainfall in Telangana has led to an improvement in rice sowing. However, deficient rainfall in major rice producing states (with 56% share in overall rice production) such as West Bengal (14% below normal), Uttar Pradesh (22%), Andhra Pradesh (14 %), Chhattisgarh (13%), Bihar (31%), Odisha (8%), Tamil Nadu (5%) and Assam (19%) is a cause of concern. States with higher irrigation cover, such as Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, are expected to face less impacted from the deficient monsoon conditions.

Deficient monsoon in states (with 64% share), such as Madhya Pradesh (5% below normal), Maharashtra (5%), Uttar Pradesh (22%), Karnataka (15%), Andhra Pradesh (14%), and Jharkhand (36%), coupled with large excess rainfall in states (24% share) of Gujarat (23% above normal) and Rajasthan (27%) is affecting sowing of pulses, the report said.

Lower irrigation cover across the major states could have a more pronounced impact on the production of pulses. Inflation in pulses has nearly doubled in the past five months. Deficient rainfall, and consequently lower rice and pulses sowing, has pushed prices higher. Rice constitutes around 4.4% and pulses have a weight of 6 per cent in the overall CPI basket.