Posts tagged ‘Monsoon’


India’s farmers seize offer of free registration of land sold on ‘plain paper’ | Reuters

When Telangana announced a three-week window for free registration of land that had exchanged hands via handwritten notes on plain paper, the offer triggered more than a million applications.

All over the state the sale of land on notes known as “sada bainamas” has been customary because of widespread inability to pay the registration fees, illiteracy or ignorance of the law.

Around a million farmers in Telangana lack secure title to land bought this way, according to a 2014 survey carried out in the state by Landesa, a U.S. based charity .

Guram Muttaya is a beneficiary of the registration drive and one of many farmers who occupy land they have been cultivating for 30 to 40 years on the strength of informal documents.

“Registering the land will bring me government agriculture loans, compensation for crop damages and crop insurance too,” Muttaya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, holding up a torn piece of paper bearing a signature.

The piece of paper is his only proof of ownership of a fifth of a hectare of land he bought in Kannayapally village 27 years ago for $67 and whose market value has risen to $3,000.

Studies have shown that broadly distributed secure land rights for farmers can help to pull families out of poverty and boost sustainable economic development.

Source: India’s farmers seize offer of free registration of land sold on ‘plain paper’ | Reuters


Why India’s monsoon is difficult to forecast | The Economist

METEOROLOGISTS are forecasting a bumper monsoon for India this year. This is good news for the more than 600m people—about half of India’s population—who depend on the rains it brings. Knowing when and where the monsoon will arrive is especially important for farmers; even now, two-thirds of India’s fields lack irrigation. But forecasting the monsoon remains fantastically difficult, especially as four in every ten monsoons are classified as abnormal anyway. What makes India’s monsoon so unpredictable?

The word monsoon derives from mausam in Hindi (and originally from Arabic), meaning “weather”. Monsoon climates typically have two very distinct seasons: wet and dry. In India, the onslaught of the rains begins when moist air is carried northwards from the Indian ocean during the summer. The winds transporting the main or “south-west” monsoon come from an area south of the equator which is characterised by high atmospheric pressure. As the air gathers moisture during the journey, atmospheric convection forms huge storm clouds which arrive first in southern India around early June (as they did this year). The monsoon creeps north and west, showering Pakistan and north India about a month later. By September it is in retreat, and has normally withdrawn from the south of the country by December. Many factors seem to affect the duration and intensity of the monsoon. One is El Niño, a climatic phenomenon associated with warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific ocean. Last year the monsoon proved disappointing while El Niño was in full swing: total rainfall between June and September was 14% below the 50-year average. How exactly the phenomenon interacts with the monsoon is not well understood, however, as even large Niños in the past have coincided with normal monsoons.

Anthropogenic emissions also seem to affect rain patterns. India is the world’s fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. The insulating effect of such emissions helped make last year the hottest on record; this year looks set to be even more scorching. A warmer atmosphere probably means even greater variability in the monsoon. Rainfall extremes are expected to increase, thanks in part to the fact that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture (about 7% more, for every degree Celsius of warming). Air pollution complicates matters further. It is a terrible problem in India, contributing to more than 600,000 early deaths a year. Cooking at home, and the smoke it releases, accounts for much of the trouble. Aerosols such as black carbon interact with sunlight. Some of these tiny particles—many less than a tenth the width of a human hair—scatter light, while others absorb it. In the former case, this prevents the light from warming the earth’s surface. In the latter, absorbing the light causes the particles to warm the air around them. Both alter the heating of the atmosphere, and therefore the heating of the land relative to the ocean—the process which drives the monsoon.

Scientists are using a variety of techniques to better forecast the monsoon, from monitoring changes in land use (because vegetation stores more moisture) to sending underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal (to learn more about the salinity and temperature of the ocean). Their research could improve climate models and farming practices—but improved water-storage facilities, better irrigation and more access to insurance schemes might have to make up for the gaps in knowledge that will persist.

Source: The Economist explains: Why India’s monsoon is difficult to forecast | The Economist


India’s suicide farmers’ widows face living death | Reuters

At the age of 24, Joshna Wandile and her two children were thrown out of the house she shared with her in-laws after her farmer husband hanged himself. He left a pile of debts after years of drought laid waste to his land.Wandile is not alone. More than 300,000 farmers have killed themselves in India over the last two decades, leaving their widows battling with the state, moneylenders, in-laws and their communities.

While widows in rural India are often ostracised and abused, farmer widows have it particularly tough, activists said ahead of International Widows’ Day on Thursday.”I had nothing when my husband died – he sold everything in the house, even the cooking vessels, to pay the creditors,” said Wandile who lives in Vidarbha in Maharashtra, among the worst affected by farmers’ suicides.

“I couldn’t even feel sad. I could only think: where will we live? How will I earn enough money? How will I keep us safe?” said Wandile, who was married at 17.

Maharashtra, which is struggling with its worst drought in four decades, accounted for more than half the 5,650 farmer suicides in India in 2014, according to official data. Some estimate last year’s toll exceeded 3,000.

“Bankruptcy or indebtedness” was the most common reason cited. Most were small farmers, with holdings of under two hectares.

There is little information on the families left behind who struggle to claim their right to the land they till and the house they live in, while battling archaic stigmas that dog their every step.

Source: India’s suicide farmers’ widows face living death | Reuters


India May Have Won the Battle With Food Inflation Before the First Drop of Monsoon Rain – India Real Time – WSJ

Around this time every year, farmers and economists look to India’s skies, hoping for the arrival of the monsoon rains.

Late and less rain hurts crops and triggers inflation, goes the traditional worry, so every day of delay or deficit in downpours threatens to derail the country’s fragile growth.

The problem with this annual, rational worry, however, is that it’s just, plain wrong.

Good and bad monsoons in recent years have had limited effect on growth or even on food inflation, according to a report this week from Nomura. What is much more important in determining how fast food prices rise, the report says, is the minimum support prices New Delhi sets for certain crucial commodities.

So instead of looking to the skies, central bankers and other inflation fighters should be looking to New Delhi.

This year the monsoon is predicted to be above normal but much more importantly, the weather over the capital is looking promising. On Thursday, India’s weather department upheld its monsoon forecast and said it expects rainfall to be 106% of the long-term average.

On Wednesday the government announced the minimum support prices for the most basic Indian staples–dal and rice—and capped the increases at less than 10%. In some years when the government looked to help farmers it has ratcheted up the prices more than 15%, triggering inflation.

Source: India May Have Won the Battle With Food Inflation Before the First Drop of Monsoon Rain – India Real Time – WSJ


India’s rice output, exports to climb on revival of monsoon | Business Standard News

India’s summer-sown rice output is likely to cross the previous year’s level due to a pick up in monsoon rains, raising prospects for higher overseas sales in 2015 by the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, trade officials said.

Robust exports from India could keep a lid on global prices that have surged 12% in the past three months and help cut bulging government stockpiles built as a result of bumper harvests over the past several years.

“There were concerns over production due to poor rainfall in June. The pick-up in rains from mid-July changed the situation. Now, the crop is in good shape,” said B.V. Krishna Rao, managing director of Pattabhi Agro Foods Pvt Ltd, a leading exporter.

In June, monsoon rains were 43% lower than the 50-year average, raising concerns about output of the rice crop that guzzles a lot of water. But rains picked up in the past few weeks, narrowing the rainfall deficit to 11%.

“Overall rice production will definitely be higher than last year but it is a little early to quantify by how much,” said Rajen Sundareshan, executive director of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

via India’s rice output, exports to climb on revival of monsoon | Business Standard News.


* Monsoon plays truant, Indian government’s fingers crossed

Times of India: “Delayed monsoon in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is worrying the government with prices of fruit and vegetables up 50 percent in 10 days and the water level in reservoirs nearly half of last year.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed till July 15. There appears to be a delay in the monsoon,” said a senior agriculture ministry official, not wanting to be named.

He said the ministry hoped for normal rains from Sunday.

Tomatoes, which cost Rs 25 per kg on an average in Delhi 10 days ago was selling at Rs 55 per kg on Thursday. Potatoes which cost Rs 10 per kg are now selling at Rs 20 per kg here.

The overall monsoon deficiency in the country was 23 percent till Tuesday, the meteorological department said.

The rainfall deficit, said the met department, was 40 percent in the northwest, 22 percent in the central region and 13 percent in the eastern and northeastern regions, which produce the bulk of the summer crop.

In Haryana and Punjab, the deficit was 71 percent and 73 percent respectively, it said.

Around 60 percent of the country’s agriculture depends on monsoon rains. As such, the ministry has asked states to keep alternative plans ready in case the situation does not improve.”

via Monsoon plays truant, government’s fingers crossed – The Times of India.

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* India to launch $75m mission to forecast rains

BBC News: “India is launching a $75m (£48m) scheme using computer models to understand the south-west monsoonand forecast the rains more accurately, officials say.

Rains have come down pretty heavily this monsoon

Rains have come down pretty heavily this monsoon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

India receives 80% of its annual rainfall during the summer monsoon between June and September.

A significant shortfall in rain can trigger drought, which can cause great damage to India’s 235 million farmers.

There have been reports that this year’s monsoon has been poor.

“Understanding the monsoon will be a major priority of the government for the next five years,” says Shailesh Nayak, a senior official in the ministry of earth sciences.

He said efforts will be made to understand the rains using computer models developed by the UK and the US and gathering fresh data.

Forecasting the monsoon is a tricky task, as India’s meteorologists have discovered time and again.

Last year they predicted a bad monsoon, but in the end the rains turned out to be in excess of what was forecast.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) admitted later that it was “not very accurate” in its forecasts.

In its 137-year history the IMD has never been able to predict a drought or a flood – the two extremes of a monsoon season – successfully.

Experts say scientists all over the world struggle to forecast weather patterns.

They say the IMD does a “commendable job, putting its reputation on the block” by making monsoon forecasts every year.

Monsoon watchers like Prof J Srinivasan from the Indian Institute of Science says seasonal forecasts for drought and floods are relatively accurate for the Sub-Saharan region in Africa, but no agency in the world has ever been able to predict a drought or flood for the Indian region.”

via BBC News – India to launch $75m mission to forecast rains.

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