Monsoon Current Affairs - 2019

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FICCI study on Onion Price Rise: India should follow Israel, Brazil

India is witnessing price hikes in retail onion up to Rs 100 per kg currently in November 2019. Government had introduced the TOP-Tomato Onion Potato Scheme in 2018-19 Budget to address this problem. However, the scheme has not taken off well.

The FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) on Novmber 8, 2019, submitted a report to the GoI analyzing the problem. The Federation has also provided solutions to the current problems being faced in the country due to price rise of Onions.

Highlights of the study

  • Around 40% of total onions produced were damaged this year (2018-19) in the periods of heavy rainfall due to lack of post-harvest storage facilities
  • FICCI suggests long term solution studying Brazil and Israel models. It recommends low cost technologies for storing Onions
    • Israel stores onions in open ventilated warehouses. The warehouses are ventilated through continuous forced air.
    • Brazil stores onions in low-cost well ventilated silos systems. They are built at farm levels. Brazil also uses refrigerated rooms to store the vegetables.
  • The report says that for the first time GoI is incurring a buffer stock loss of 57,000 tons. This is 25% of the total buffer stock

India’s current measures

  • In India very few startups use farm level refrigeration for perishables
  • GoI through “Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture” promoted low cost thatched bamboo storage. According to the study, India lacks in storage systems that sustain monsoon.
  • In India Onion is cultivated throughout the year in several places. Onion scarcity occurs only during July to September. In order to maintain regular supply during the lean period GoI stores onions in ventilated warehouses. The losses are high in these systems. Around 20% to 40% of onions are lost

India records highest monsoon rains in 25 years

The IMD (Indian Meteorological Department) said that India received 10% above average monsoon rains in 2019. It is the highest in 25 years.

States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka received 35% more rainfall than the normal. It is the highest recorded rains in the history of these states.

Heavy rains damaged the summer sown crops like pulses, soybean and cotton that were close to harvest.

What caused heavy rains?

The monsoon begins in June and ends by September. However, this year it delayed its retreat. This caused increased rainfall that led to floods. Climatologists believe that climate change is the main reason for the increased floods. However, anthropogenic activities are hastening climate change and resulting in disasters.

Extreme climate in India

India has been experiencing extreme weather conditions in several parts of the country. In July the GoI said that 2,400 people were killed in 2018 due to extremities of the weather.

Deficiency of rains in June

By the end of June, India was 33% monsoon rain deficit. In the past 146 years whenever deficit rainfall in June has been more than 30% it either led to below normal monsoon or drought. Never in the history of India, it has received above average monsoon as it has happened this year.

Significance of South West Monsoon

  • It brings rain to all parts of the country except Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between June and September
  • The monsoon helps farmers expand areas under winter – sown crops like rice, wheat, chick peas, rapeseed.

Floods

Floods created havocs in most parts of the country this monsoon. According to Central Water Commission that monitors dams and flood levels around 25 stations crossed the HFL – Highest Flood Level till August 2019. The rivers Warna and Krishna in Maharashtra and Karnataka crossed the HFL. The levels were the greatest of those in the past.

Kerala and monsoon

Till August Kerala was under seasonal rainfall deficit of 27%. However, between August 1 and August 7 it received 368% more rainfall than normal that led to floods. Again, after August 13, the state faced seasonal rainfall deficit. This season around 100 were killed in Kerala and more than a lakh displaced.

What made June month dry?

The South West monsoon that sets on June 1 delayed and began on June 9. After being set, the monsoon progressed as Cyclone Vayu. The cyclone disrupted the regular trade winds that are the carriers of the monsoon. This arrested the monsoon in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu till June 21. The warming of Indian Ocean decreased the temperature difference between the land and sea. The disturbance in the trigger of monsoon is also a reason for their delay.