THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The monsoon deficit of over 30 per cent might look alarming but cataclysms, or even minor upheavals, that are normally triggered by a poor monsoon season are surprisingly not seen manifested in the two sectors that are heavily dependent on the generosity of the rains: agriculture and power.
“The agriculture sector has not yet been affected by the poor monsoon this time,” said R. Haley, former director of Agriculture. “The intensity might be low but the state has been getting intermittent rains. These short non-destructive spells of rainfall have allowed local vegetable farmers more field time,” he said.
Haley estimates that local vegetable production, aided by what he calls a “benign”monsoon, will increase by 15-20 per cent this year. “Onam will be especially richer with the presence of local leafy vegetable varieties,” he added. Coconut farmers, too, seem blessed. “The long gap between spells has helped perennial crops like coconut in no small measure,” said Binesh, senior agriculture officer.
“Heavy summer showers had helped farmers to dig basins around the base of the coconut tree where manure could be applied. And then, calm and spaced-out monsoon ensured that the manure did not leach along with rainwater,” Binesh said. Paddy, however, could be affected. “The summer showers that extended deep into May have already delayed our first crop. It can be harvested only weeks after Onam. It now looks almost certain that paddy farmers will lose money,” said Janata Dal leader Krishnankutty, an expert farmer.
Binesh too felt that the second paddy crop (mundakan) could be affected if the rains remained weak during the end of August, when paddy seedlings are transplanted. “Fields should have ankle-high water during this period,” Binesh said.
The power sector too has remained largely insulated. KSEB Limited has limited its hydel generation, thus saving water in its reservoirs, but has also managed to keep its purchase from costly stations to a relatively insignificant 0.32 MU; last year same time, it was nearly 5 MU. Sound planning has allowed KSEBL to source nearly 50 per cent of its needs from cheap central generating stations....