Lower than usual monsoon rains in NE, Manipur hardest hit
The record 46 per cent deficiency in monsoon rains and ongoing ethnic violence have particularly affected agriculture in Manipur
Though the southwest monsoon is yet to withdraw from the northeastern region, three of its eight states — Assam, Manipur and Mizoram — recorded deficient rainfall owing to a lack of rain-bearing clouds and monsoon troughs from the Bay of Bengal.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), of the four IMD regions across the country, the northeast has recorded 82 per cent rainfall during this year’s monsoon thus far.
IMD data revealed that in Manipur, there is 46 per cent deficiency, in Mizoram, the shortage of rainfall has been recorded at 28 per cent, while Assam recorded 20 per cent deficit monsoon rains since June.
Senior IMD official Nahush Kulkarni said the Southwest monsoon has not yet withdrawn from the northeastern region. “After analysing all monsoon-related parameters and environmental conditions, the IMD will announce the withdrawal of the seasonal monsoon,” Kulkarni told IANS.
The record 46 per cent deficiency in monsoon rains and ongoing ethnic violence have particularly affected agriculture in Manipur, where irrigation facilities are also insufficient.
According to an independent survey conducted by Loumee Shinmee Apunba Lup (LOUSAL), a farmers’ body, a total area of around 9,719 hectares of paddy fields in Manipur's valley regions are facing crop failure as farmers are afraid to go into the fields owing to sporadic firing by armed attackers from the lower foothills.
Agriculture department officials said that it has been estimated that the total income loss in terms of money for the state in the agricultural sector this year could be around Rs 226.50 crore.
Of this, the highest loss would be in rice production to the extent of Rs 211.41 crore, which accounts for 93.36 per cent of total agriculture and allied activities followed by livestock farming.
Of the five crisis-hit valley districts, Imphal East, Imphal West, Kakching Thoubal and Bishnupur are the worst affected in terms of agricultural land area comprising 5,288 hectares, constituting 54.4 per cent of the total land area of 9,719 hectares.
Agriculture department commissioner R.K. Dinesh Singh said the Union home ministry, following a proposal of the department to provide crop compensation package for the ethnic violence affected farmers, has sanctioned Rs 38.06 crore.
Another IMD official said that normally, the four-month long southwest monsoon departs a week or 10 days after the withdrawal of the monsoon from most parts of the country.
The IMD had, on 30 September, released the 2023 southwest monsoon end-seasonal report, saying rainfall over the country as a whole during June-September was 94 per cent of its long period average (LPA).
Seasonal rainfall over northwest India, central India, south peninsula and northeast India were 101 per cent, 100 per cent, 92 per cent and 82 per cent of their respective LPA, it said.
Experts said as per the LPA estimation, in the past three to four years, though the northeastern states witnessed normal rainfall, uneven distribution of monsoon rain has affected various crops in the region, where agriculture is the mainstay.
According to IMD data, apart from the deficient rainfall in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram, the five remaining northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura — have experienced normal rains so far since the southwest monsoon arrived in June.
There are four meteorological sub-divisions in the northeastern region — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Meghalaya, Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura and Sikkim and parts of West Bengal.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, there is 12 per cent to 16 per cent deficient rainfall while in Sikkim, 5 per cent excess rains have been recorded since June.
As per IMD norms, up to 19 per cent deficient or excess rainfall is categorised as normal.
Senior technical officer in the Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Dhiman Daschaudhuri, said that rainfall in the four-month-long monsoon period in the northeastern region was more or less normal for the past few years, but proper distribution of rain has become a factor for agriculture.
"We have observed that there are dry spells at the beginning of the monsoon, affecting the seedling of the seasonal crops. Subsequently, sufficient or excess rain occurred. The imbalances of monsoon rain affect the timely sowing of different varieties if rice and other crops,” Daschaudhuri told IANS.
He said sometimes after the dry spell, cyclone-triggered rain benefits cropping in the region.