Uneven distribution of rainfall affects crop yields across NE states

A Farmer ploughs his paddy field with the help of bullocks, on the outskirts of Guwahati,on Wednesday,June 14, 2023. (Photo: Anuwar hazarika/IANS)

A Farmer ploughs his paddy field with the help of bullocks, on the outskirts of Guwahati,on Wednesday,June 14, 2023. (Photo: Anuwar hazarika/IANS)

Guwahati/Agartala, August 20 (IANS) Manipur and Mizoram witnessed deficient monsoon rainfall due to the lack of rain-bearing clouds and monsoon troughs from the Bay of Bengal while the remaining northeastern states, including Himalayan state Sikkim, recorded normal rainfall since June when the monsoon period started.

Experts said that as per the Long Period Average estimation, during the past three to four years though the northeastern states witnessed normal rainfall, but uneven distribution of monsoon rain has affected various crops in the region, where agriculture is the mainstay.

When the southwest monsoon rainfall devastated some northern and southern states of the country, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), two northeastern states witnessed deficient rainfall due to the lack of rain-bearing clouds and monsoon trough from the Bay of Bengal while the remaining six states of the region witnessed normal rainfall.

According to the IMD data, except Manipur and Mizoram, six northeastern states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura -- have experienced normal rains so far since the four-month-long (June to September) southwest monsoon began in June.

There are three meteorological sub-divisions in the northeastern region -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Meghalaya, and Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura.

In Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura there is one per cent to 18 per cent deficient rainfall while in Sikkim there are 13 per cent excess rains recorded since June.

As per the IMD norms, up to 19 per cent deficient or excess rainfall is categorised as normal.

The IMD data revealed that in Manipur, there is a 47 per cent deficiency and in Mizoram, the shortage of rainfall was recorded at 28 per cent since June.

Senior Technical Officer of the Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research Dhiman Daschaudhuri said that rainfall in the four-month-long monsoon period was more or less normal for the past few years but proper distribution of rain became 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 seedlings of different rice and other crops," Daschaudhuri told IANS.

He said that sometimes after the dry spell, cyclone-triggered rain benefited the cropping in the region. 
IMD officials said that a monsoon period of around 40 days is still left, and the deficiency in rainfall in Manipur and Mizoram might get covered before the end of the monsoon in September

"Due to lack of rain-bearing clouds, water vapour and monsoon trough from the Bay of Bengal, several northeastern states experienced deficient rainfall for certain weeks... The monsoon trough accompanied by strong moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal mostly moved towards other regions of the country causing heavy to very heavy rain," IMD officials.

The northeastern region normally witnesses normal or heavy rainfall during the four months of the southwest monsoon, and a few states, especially Assam, get badly affected by the recurring annual floods.

This year, according to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials, flood-related deaths in Assam were 14 while around 1.15 lakh people including thousands of children were affected in 17 of the state's 34 districts.

The flood-hit districts in Assam included Barpeta, Biswanath, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Darrang, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), Lakhimpur, Majuli, Morigaon, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Sonitpur.

Monsoon floods also created havoc in various national parks in Assam, killing wild and endangered animals, besides affecting 91,797 domestic animals as well.

Floods have also damaged infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and embankments, in nine different districts, while eight others have reported erosions, the ASDMA said.

Agriculture experts said that at the moment, there is no major threat to the crops as irrigation facilities are more or less active in most parts of the northeastern region.

The monsoon struck the region five days later than the normal date of arrival but nobody’s complaining.

The brief delay in the arrival of the monsoon will not have any negative effect on agriculture in the region as the rains are expected to be normal and above normal by the end of the southwest monsoon in September, IMD officials explained.