General drought management practices and contingency plans to be adopted to mitigate drought during crop production is covered here
Facts about drought in India
About 56% of the net cultivated area of the country is rain-fed accounting for 44% of food production. Thus Monsoon rainfall is crucial for agriculture production and food security of the country. It also has negative spin off effects on other sectors of the economy.
In India, drought essentially occurs due to failure of south-west monsoon (June – September). Areas affected by drought needs to wait till the next monsoon, as 73% of annual rainfall in the country is received during the SW Monsoon season. Coastal areas of peninsular India, in particular Tamil Nadu receive bulk of their annual rainfall from the North-East Monsoons, between October and December.
The available data on rainfall indicate on drought perspective that –
- 16% of the Country’s total area is drought prone and annually about 50 million people in the country are exposed to the crisis of drought;
- A total of 68% of sown area is subject to drought in varying degrees;
- 35% of area receives rainfall between 750-mm - 1125-mm and is drought prone;
- Most of drought prone areas lie in the arid (19.6%), semi-arid (37%) and sub-humid (21%) areas of the country that occupy 77.6% of its total land area of 329 million hectares.
- Annual Average Rainfall is 1160 mm in India. However, 85% is concentrated in 100-120 days (SW Monsoon)
- 33% of area receives less than 750-mm rainfall and is chronically drought prone;
- 21% area receives less than 750 mm rainfall (large area of Peninsular and Rajasthan)
- Rainfall is erratic in 4 out of 10 years.
- Depletion of Ground water and limitation of surface water imply that not all net sown area is amenable to irrigation.
- Per Capita Water availability is steadily declining due to increase in population, rapid industrialization, urbanization, cropping intensity and declining ground water level. Problems are likely to aggravate.
Diagnosis of emerging drought
Based on experienced gained, some warning signals of impending droughts have been identified for various stages of our agricultural cycle. They are:
For Kharif (sowing from June to August)
- Delay in onset of South-West Monsoon.
- Long ‘break’ in activity of South-West Monsoon.
- Insufficient rains and skewed spatial distribution,particularly during the months of June and July.
- Temperature and relative Humidity (subject to availability).
- Rise in Price of fodder.
- Absence of rising trend in reservoir levels and / or reduction in stream flows and depletion rate of groundwater.
- Drying up sources of Rural Drinking Water Supply.
- Declining trend in progress of sowing over successive weeks compared to corresponding figures for “normal years”.
- Out migration of rural population.
For Rabi (sowing from November to January)
- Deficiency in closing figures for South – West Monsoon (30th September).
- Serious depletion in level of Ground Water compared to figures for “normal years”.
- Fall in the level of Reservoirs compared to figures for the corresponding period in the “normal years” – indication of poor recharge following SW Monsoon.
- Indication of marked soil moisture stress.
- Rise in price of fodder.
- Increased deployment of water through tankers
- (For Tamil Nadu & Puducherry the crucial period is North East Monsoon – October to December).
- For areas like Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and North Interior Karnataka the crucial period is March / April when due to chronic hydrological drought, many areas develop acute scarcity of Drinking Water.
- For specific states and particular crops there are particular times of years when progress of rains is of special significance e.g. February rains in Kerala for plantation crops.