In India, monsoons are clearly the most anticipated and tracked weather phenomenon. And why not? It is extremely important for Indian agriculture, flora and fauna.
Through the year, we awaited the monsoons. After a slow monsoon last year, IMD?s prediction of a bumper monsoon was a big relief. As an agriculture enthusiast, I knew how much this monsoon would mean to all associated with it- the farmers, their families, customers, Government- everyone.
But as our office witnessed the first shower of the season, the joy brought some worries. A good monsoon is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it provides water to the farms for cultivation and maintains the water level. An above average monsoon helps to replenish reservoirs and aquifers. Groundwater is recharged, and so are our fields But at the same time, news of ruined standing crops, due to the poor standard of water management in the country, is saddening.
Today, monsoon is our lifeline. Areas that perennially suffer from drought and water scarcity, rejoice in monsoons. It is a cause of celebration and jubilation. Bloomberg reports that roughly 80 per cent of annual rainfall in India occurs during the monsoon. More than 235 million people in India rely on agriculture, and 60 percent use no irrigation, so they rely on rainfall entirely for food production. In the past, when the monsoon has failed, food supplies have suffered and prices have escalated. Without the monsoon, the entire country comes to a standstill.
But unfortunately, this lifeline becomes a bane when there is excess rainfall. In 2013, The India Meteorological Department reported 17 per cent excess rainfall through the country. This led to the damage of about 6 per cent kharif crops (Source) This year, According to the department’s forecast, the monsoon rainfall over the country is expected to be 106%. (Source). Surplus rainfall holds the potential to adversely ruin standing crops such as pulses and oilseeds. If paddy production is affected, its impact on price is still restricted as it is a local product and we have stocks. However, as we continue to depend on importing pulses and edible oils, any shortfall will mean higher imports, which will lead to a rise in domestic prices. Therefore, India cannot afford to lose them to excess rainfall.
For such a scene, water harvesting is an easy solution, ignored for long. There is an immediate need to prepare for water harvesting, so that we can save the water and solve two purposes- ensure that fields are not flooded and crops not damaged, and at the same time replenish water for the next season, just in case monsoons do not favour us.
By construction of reservoir on mass scale, river networking, digging & modernization of canals, better drainage system etc. we can certainly manage our water better. If these areas are given due attention, benefits of the monsoon can be reaped and they can continue to be our lifelines.