Excess rain during 2019 monsoon damaged 32 lakh hectares of agricultural land in 12 states, says Skymet report

Kangkan Acharyya

As per the annual crop damage analysis report published by Skymet Weather Services Private Limited, more than 32 lakh hectares of agricultural land across 12 states were inundated in 2019 due to a prolonged monsoon.

Skymet, a weather forecast company, arrived at the figures using the Geographic Information System and ground-level data from field workers. The report, analysing the reason behind the flooding, said the monsoon showed an erratic pattern which began with deficient rain but ended with surplus in several parts of the nation.

"The late onset of monsoon and the severely deficient rainfall in June seemed to suggest that 2019 would join the ranks of years with below normal monsoon. However, the 2019 monsoon defied all expectations and patterns," the report said.

The monsoon first hit the coastal state of Kerala on 8 June, registering a delay of an entire week. On the other hand the withdrawal of monsoon finally commenced from West Rajasthan on 9 October against the normal date of 1 September, making it the most delayed withdrawal of the past 59 years.

The sluggish progress of the monsoon ensured that June ended with a rainfall deficiency of a whopping 33 percent. By 19 July, the rains covered the entire country, a delay of 4 days. From 1 June to 31 July, the country recorded 410.4 mm of rain against the normal of 452.2 mm. With this, the first half of monsoon  ended with a cumulative countrywide seasonal rainfall deficiency of 9 percent. September bore witness to unprecedented heavy showers, and consequently ended with a surplus of 52 percent.

During this year's monsoon, perennially water-starved Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh were deluged. September rains broke a 102-year record, drenching most parts of the country, especially Central India.

Monsoon left a trail of destruction, snuffing out lives and livelihood of millions. Six states, namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar bore the brunt of the 2019 floods. Eight others €" Assam, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana €" were subjected to moderate floods.

Madhya Pradesh loses 50% crops

Madhya Pradesh ended up recording 44 percent surplus rainfall. Breaking a decade-long record, west Madhya Pradesh received 61 percent surplus rainfall. This particular subdivision experienced very heavy rains during July, August, and September. The districts most impacted: Indore, Jhabua, Khandwa, Mandsaur, Neemuch, Raisen, Rajgarh, Shajapur, Ujjain, and Ratlam.

In September, the state witnessed unprecedented monsoon activity with its eastern part receiving 25 percent surplus rainfall. Almost 80 percent of the districts of western Madhya Pradesh have received 50 percent surplus rain which caused widespread damage to crops. Madhya Pradesh is the biggest producer of soybean in the country and this year's crop has been adversely impacted. Almost 40 to 50 percent

of the crop has been damaged, and the quality has also suffered.

Crop damaged in Maharashtra

Mumbai received the highest seasonal rainfall of the decade. According to data available with Skymet, against the normal rainfall of 761.7 mm between 1 June and 16 August, some parts received 937.5 mm rainfall. Southern parts of central Maharashtra remained inundated for many days in August and September. Central Marashtra recorded surplus 55 percent surplus rain during the season. The districts most affected were: Thane, Palghar, Mumbai, Raigad, Dhule, Kolhapur, Nashik, Sangli, Satara, and Nandurbar.

The floods damaged crops across 4 lakh hectares in western and northern parts. Sugarcane, cotton, rice, soybean, tur dal, groundnut were among the worst hit. The sowing was delayed in the state to mid-July. Heavy rains after sowing hindered germination. The rains in early August adversely affected the crop at the early vegetative state.

Groundnut crop damaged in Gujarat

Saurashtra and Kutch received a 66 percent surplus rain, the highest since 2010. The semi-arid region was impacted more than Gujarat. The districts most severely hit: Bharuch, Chhota Udaipur, Narmada, Botad, Dwarka, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Kutch, Morbi, and Surendranagar. Widespread damage to the groundnut and the cotton crop has been reported from Bharuch, Chota Udepur, Narmada, Amreli, Botad, Dwarka, Jamnagar, Junagarh, Kachchh, Morbi, Rajkot, Porbandar and Surendranagar.

Excess rains in late September, when the groundnut crop was mature and ready to be harvested, led to fungal infection in the crop which adversely impacted both the yield and the quality. Excess rains inundated the fields and delayed harvesting by 15 to 20 days. Simultaneously, excess rains induced flower shading in the late sown cotton crop and damaged the quality of the opened ball. Yield has been adversely impacted and the quality has also suffered. Around 30 to 40 percent of the groundnut crop and 20 to 30 percent of the cotton crop was damaged.

Rainfall increases 53% in Rajasthanw

East Rajasthan recorded the highest Monsoon rainfall in the past 15 years. This sub-division witnessed extended monsoon activity, and observed 53 percent excess rainfall. July, August, and September were extremely wet. The districts deluged: Ajmer, Baran, Bhilwara, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Jhalawar, Kota, Pratapgarh, Sikar, Pali, and Nagaur.

The sandy alluvium soil of Rajasthan ensures that it does not retain excess water. For this reason, the crop damage is negligible. In fact, the crop is in better condition this year than last year.

Karnataka saw 2.42 lakh hectares of agricultural land inundated 

The state received excess rainfall during the monsoon. At least 10 districts were badly hit. Due to heavy rainfall in the first week of August, Karnataka was affected by severe floods. The worst-hit districts: Bagalkot, Belgaum, Dharwad, Raichur, Haveri, Mysore, Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, Shimoga and Hassan.

A total of 2,72,598.92 hectares of land have been affected, of which 2,42,117.09 hectares is agricultural. Heavy rains in mid-September adversely impacted the crop as excess soil moisture induced flower shedding and also caused root-rotting and wilting. Consequently, the overall yield and quality of the produce were badly affected.

Bihar saw 30% early sown crops damaged

Bihar is India's most flood-prone state, with 76 percent of the population in the north Bihar living under the recurring threat of flood devastation. The state saw a deficit in the first half of monsoon. However, north Bihar experienced heavy rains for a few days. September witnessed extremely wet spells, especially towards the last week. Of the 2,046,220.29 hectares of flooded area, 1,67,2366.44 hectares are agricultural land. The districts most devastated by the floods are: Araria, West Champaran, Madhepura, Madhubani, Buxar, Gopalganj, Banka, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, and Patna. About 20 to 30 percent of the early-sown crop was damaged due to water-logging in the fields.

Assam saw 8,12,718.23 hectares of land inundated

Assam falls under a meteorological zone which receives excess monsoon rains and consequently, the state's annual tryst with floods is hardly unprecedented. This year, 15,55,515.250 hectares of land were affected, of which 8,12,718.23 hectares were agricultural land. Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Kamrup, Dhemaji, Sivasagar and Nagaon were the worst-hit districts, accounting for 2,67,907.94 hectares of flooded agricultural land.

The floods in Kerala were less severe than the previous year. The 2019 floods impacted 58,709.89 hectares of land, of which 22765.03 hectares were agricultural land. Wayanad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Palakkad, Idukki, Thrissur, and Ernakulam were some of the worst-hit districts.

In Andhra Pradesh, the East Godavari district was the most affected pocket with 11,466.04 hectares of agricultural land being devastated by flooding. Of the 29,197.980 hectares of total flooded area, 21366.27 hectares were agricultural land. Though inundation was reported for a brief period of time, no crop damage due to flood has been reported.

In Punjab, over six lakh hectares of agricultural land were wrecked by floods. In Uttar Pradesh, 1,73,007.63 hectares of agricultural land were inundated and Ballia, Gorakhpur, Deoria and Ghazipur were the worst-hit districts. In Haryana, 1398.26 hectares of agricultural land were affected with Kurukshetra being the worst-hit district.

The Indian subcontinent finally broke its poor monsoon streak. This is the first above normal monsoon since 2013.

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