Where: Mumbai, India

July 15, 2009 : The Indian Meteorological (Met) Department had predicted an excellent monsoon in 2009 for the entire country. The monsoon is an annual rainfall system, and India’s farmers have always depended on it for their crops. Changing monsoon patterns are among the harmful effects of climate change.

The Met Department has reported that the entire country had a 34 per cent drop in rainfall between June 1 and July 9, 2009.

Most alarmingly, the north west part of the country has seen a 50 per cent fall in monsoon rain. The worst hit in the region are the two states considered to be the granary of India : Punjab and Haryana. They are facing a 70 per cent rainfall deficiency. Soyabean, maize and groundnuts grow in plenty in central India, and there the rainfall has been 37 per cent below normal. South India’s figure stands at 15 per cent below normal.

The lack of rain sent food prices soaring in Mumbai, India’s trade hub. Prices of pulses in the wholesale market went up 20 per cent. Wheat prices rose 30 per cent, rice 36 per cent and tomatoes 100 per cent.

The Indian crop sowing season starts in June and gets over by the end of July. Paddy is planted from the second to the third week of July once the shoots are about 6 inches high. The seeds were not sowed in time in most regions, as farmers were waiting for rain. The yield per acre for rice could go down by anywhere between 50 and 70 per cent. As of now, the country has reserve stocks of 56 million tons of foodgrain. The monsoon generally begins to withdraw by the first week of August, and the last few days of July could still bring much needed rainfall.