Four point suggestions to prepare for different rainfall possibilities this year
The changes in weather patterns and the manner in which they have affected agriculture in recent days, has raised several concerns about managing unseasonal weather, especially in the context of food security. In order to anticipate and plan for the days ahead Prof .M S Swaminathan has suggested four steps that could be adopted to prepare for different rain possibilities. The text of the statement follows:
Recent data from IMD reveal that atleast 8.5 million hectares of crops were affected by unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Rainfall between March 1 and April 15 was almost double the normal. Experience has shown that if the southwest monsoon begins early, there may be a lull in rainfall later. We should start preparing from now on to meet different rainfall possibilities. The following steps will be prudent :
Mandatory rainwater harvesting in all farms so that crop life saving irrigation can be given if there is a prolonged dry spell. Wherever farms are small community rainwater harvesting can be promoted; in this area equity in water sharing is essential for cooperation in water saving. Some method of community management like a Pani Panchayat will be useful.
In case there is a prolonged dry spell between rains, seedlings may wither. Therefore, seed banks with alternative short duration crops should be built up and the choice of alternative crops could be both on the basis of home needs and market demand.
Contingency plans to adapt to different weather probabilities should be prepared jointly by agriculture universities and farmers’ associations. Women farmers in particular should be consulted. Unless such joint work is promoted, the technical advice may remain on paper.
Our grain reserve is dwindling and climate change is posing many unforeseen threats. Therefore, codes of coping with different weather probabilities like drought, flood and good weather codes should be prepared jointly by scientists and farmers. Eternal vigilance is the price of stable agriculture and sustainable food security. This will call for an inter-disciplinary Monsoon Management Strategy.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.