Possible El Nino impact: Centre asks states to ensure enough seeds for kharif sowing

New Delhi: Union Agri Secy Manoj Ahuja said that the weather department has made a forecast of normal monsoon and there could be El Nino conditions during the monsoon season

BY | Thursday, 4 May, 2023

Amid concerns over possible impact of evolving El Nino conditions on monsoon rains, the Centre on Wednesday advised states to be prepared for “worst situation” and ensure adequate availability of seeds for kharif sowing season in case of less rainfall.

India is expected to get normal rainfall during the southwest monsoon season despite the evolving El Nino conditions, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast in April.

A National Conference on Agriculture-Kharif Campaign-2023 was organised here to prepare the strategy for upcoming kharif sowing season.

Inaugurating the kharif campaign, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked states to promote technology in the farm sector to cut input cost, boost production and farmers’ income.

Asserting that “profit guarantee” is the need of the hour in the farm sector, he said the use of technology can help in making farming profitable by reducing input cost and increasing production.

If agriculture does not become profitable, Tomar feared that young generation will not do farming activities in the coming years.

With agriculture being a state subject, Tomar said it is important that state governments implement the central programmes and funds effectively for better results.

The Union minister also stressed on the need to increase productivity and production of major crops as demand will increase with rise in population.

“We not only need to meet demand of domestic market, but we have to fulfil the expectations of foreign countries for supply of agriculture items,” Tomar said.

He also asked states to promote nano (liquid) fertilisers, which has already been launched in the market and being used by farmers.

The minister expressed concern that consumption of conventional urea has not reduced despite rising demand of nano urea and adoption of natural and organic farming practices.

Speaking at the event, Union Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said that the weather department has made a forecast of normal monsoon and there could be El Nino conditions during the monsoon season.

“We should be prepared for the worst situation. There are chances of less rains and there are chances that El Nino conditions might not occur. There should be complete preparedness at the state level,” he advised.

El Nino, which is the warming of the waters in the Pacific Ocean near South America, is generally associated with the weakening of monsoon winds and dry weather in India.

Rainfed agriculture is a critical component of India’s agricultural landscape, with 52 per cent of the net cultivated area relying on this method. It accounts for about 40 per cent of the country’s total food production, making it a crucial contributor to India’s food security and economic stability.

Ahuja asked states to ensure that there is adequate availability of seeds for conducting sowing operations in case of less rainfall. He told states to assess the situation and make arrangements in this month only.

He also stressed on disseminating single advisory to farmers for weather update.

The Union agriculture secretary also talked about importance of climate-resilient seed varieties, which has helped in growth of agriculture production despite climate challenge.

During the kharif campaign, the agriculture ministry set a target for total foodgrain production at 332 million tonnes for 2023-24 crop year (July-June) from record 323.5 million tonnes in the current year, according to an official statement.

The target for production of pulses have been fixed at 292.5 lakh tonnes compared to 278.1 lakh tonnes this year.

Oilseeds output will be increased to 44 million tonnes in 2023-24 from 40 million tonnes in the current year.

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