Heavy unseasonal rain in the northern food bowl states has stalled harvests and damaged crops, raising the risk of pests, farmers and experts said on Friday.
In parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, incessant rains inundated fields and submerged standing crops, leading to loss of grain as farmers struggled to save their produce.
Experts said that the revival of the late rains has started or is about to start in the northern areas where the rains were scanty and destructive in the eastern regions.
Low pressure over the Bay of Bengal and the Western Disturbance, a rain-carrying system, collide to deliver heavy rains from June to September, when the monsoons typically begin to recede.
The country has experienced erratic rains this year. Rains skipped several paddy growing states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A late revival helped these states.
Adequate harvest is important in the global food crisis. India banned wheat exports in May after excessive weather disrupted rice shipments, blocking crops.
“The harvest of paddy has stopped as the combine cannot work in soft and wet soil. There will be huge yield loss in paddy,” said Rajinder Singh, a former agriculture officer of the Haryana government, from Karnal.
The rains have delayed sowing of vegetable crops and farmers may be wary of pest attacks if hot weather sets in, said Sanjay Sangroya, a horticulture expert working at the Garounda Center of Excellence in Haryana.
No immediate evacuation in weather conditions. According to the official forecast on Friday, Uttarakhand will receive “exceptional heavy rain” during September 23-26. Western Uttar Pradesh will continue to be inundated till September 25, while eastern Rajasthan will receive heavy rains on September 23-24.
In Uttar Pradesh, heavy rains have damaged paddy and pearl millet (Bajra).
“Heavy rains have resulted in crop failure in central and western Uttar Pradesh,” said Lucknow-based agriculturist Sudhir Panwar. In regions like Agra, Mathura, Etawah, Kanauj and Meerut, showers have inundated towns and farms, he said.
Rajasthan, a major producer of spices and onions, has received heavy rainfall, especially in the eastern districts, affecting crops such as dry grains, said Ram Sevak Singh, a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Alwar.
The rain, which is likely to continue over the weekend in the northern regions, has effectively narrowed the window for farmers to harvest and clear their fields of paddy residue. Officials of Punjab and Haryana said in a meeting at the Center on September 21 that they expect small farm fires to cause annual deadly pollution and smog in Delhi. However, a late harvest can increase stubble burning, as farmers have time to clear fields for their next crop of wheat.
Farmers usually plant rabi or winter wheat in the second half of October and finish sowing in the second week of November. Paramjit Singh, a former professor at Punjab Agricultural University, said, “The wheat sowing window lasts till November 12-15.