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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

28 July 2009

India and Bangladesh:

A late start of the monsoon and erratic rains affect northern States
of India and northern region of Bangladesh

A drought-like situation is developing in parts of India and Bangladesh. The rain deficit is affecting water supplies and farmers in the affected areas of both countries are reportedly facing electricity and fuel shortages or higher costs for pumping water for irrigation.

In India the southwest summer monsoon rains normally start early June in the south and work their way to the north by mid-July to begin the main kharif cropping season. However, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cumulative rainfall from 1 June to 16 July this year was 24 percent below average for the country as a whole. Total precipitation, however, had improved from the 34 percent deficit the week before. According to IMD, the rainfall situation slightly improved over northwest India compared to the week before but decreased drastically over northeast India . The most below-normal rainfall has been experienced in the north-west and the north-east including the important food producing States of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Rainfall deficit problems were also reported in Bihar (Times of India).

The National Crop Forecasting Centre has indicated that as of 17 July 2009, area sown nationally under all Kharif crops was 48.032 million hectares, which is 9 percent below the last year’s area sown by this time.

Water stock in selected 81 major reservoirs in the country during the second week of July was 55 percent of the 10-year average level. Better rainfall during the second week of July has improved the stock from 48 percent the week before (Central Water Commission).

Ironically, severe localized flooding has affected certain districts of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal.

The impact of late and below normal cumulative rains on vegetation growth is shown in the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) satellite images below (Figure 1). Although the exact impact of the late plantings is not yet known, the early outlook for kharif crops including rice and coarse grains is unfavourable in some major producing regions. Based on the past five-year average, cereal production from the Kharif season amounts to about 53 percent of total annual production, or an average of 107.5 million tonnes per year.

In Bangladesh , according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the country received 37 percent below normal rainfall between June 1 and July 20. The situation is reportedly worse in the northern and central region, seriously affecting rice-paddy plantings during this Aman season. The drought-like situation has been eased after light to heavy rainfall was recorded over the country in the last several days. According to news reports ( and Financial Express) the government has announced financial assistance to farmers, in particular free electricity for irrigation, to protect rice production in the 16 affected districts.

Figure 1: NDVI satellite images

Source: FAO–ARTEMIS, SPOT Image.

Figure 2: Daily rainfall

Click on the image to view a larger version.

Source: India Meteorological Department.