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Drought looms in several Indian states

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  • Bill Glenn
    Drought looms in several Indian states ... --      NEW DELHI, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Drought in western and central India is likely to hit crop output and a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2000
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      Drought looms in several Indian states

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           NEW DELHI, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Drought in western and central India
      is likely to hit crop output and a clearer picture of its impact will
      be available in about two weeks' time, officials and analysts said on
      Wednesday.
           They said scarce southwest monsoon rains had created drought
      conditions for a second year in a row in the western states of Gujarat
      and Rajasthan, as well as parts of central Madhya Pradesh and
      Maharashtra.
           ``Deficient rainfall in Gujarat, Rajasthan and (newly created)
      Chattisgarh state has led to a drought-like situation in the regions
      but figures are not yet available,'' Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar
      said.
           He said Agriculture Ministry teams had already visited some
      affected areas and a clearer picture on the extent of the drought
      should be available by mid-November.
           Kumar said relief work would begin once the affected states
      announced their needs, but added there were no reports of people
      migrating from rural areas to cities due to the drought.
           The agricultural sector accounts for 25-28 percent of India's
      gross domestic product. Two-third of the country's nearly one billion
      people depend for their livelihood on products ranging from wheat and
      rice to oilseeds and cotton.
           India gets 80 percent of its rainfall from the June-September
      southwest monsoon, and its economy depends on these rains.
           The country recorded its 12th successive normal monsoon this
      year, but rains were scant in some oilseed-growing regions and
      excessive in other parts of the country causing floods.
           WATER TABLE DOWN
           Kumar said the water table level had gone down in the drought
      affected states and was a matter of concern because deficient rainfall
      had not been able to replace ground water.
           An Agriculture Ministry statement said total water availablity in
      major reservoirs were critically low in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya
      Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Orissa.
           ``The drought condition is almost at last year's level, the only
      problem is it is for the second consecutive year in states like
      Gujarat and Rajasthan,'' C.R. Hazra, agricuture commissioner for
      crops, told Reuters.
           He said that while the exact crop situation would be known later,
      oilseeds, pulses and coarse cereals output would be hit.
           Agriculture Secretary Bhaskar Barua said the ministry had made no
      fresh assessment since its winter crop projections at the end of
      September.
           The ministry statement said that the groundnut crop in had
      Gujarat suffered due to lack of moisture, while crops in Andhra
      Pradesh had been hit by a virus. It said soybean in Madhya Pradesh had
      also been affected by the lack of rains.
           Harvesting of the crops has already begun.
           Commodity analysts said the drought was as bad, if not worse,
      than the previous year and would also hit the summer crop.
           ``The sowing of rapeseed in Rajasthan and Gujarat in December for
      the summer crop will be affected because of lack of sub-soil
      moisture,'' said a Bombay-based commodity analyst.

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