heatwave: Severe heatwave across India roasts crop yield


An unusually early heatwave across India has impacted the end-season mustard crop, reduced the wheat yield and raised worries among farmers about just-sown pulses crops such as urad, tur and moong beans in Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka. Bodo rice harvesting in West Bengal has also been affected by the heatwave as workers are not ready to work in the fields.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the average temperature in the country in April was 35.05 degrees Celsius, the fourth-highest in 122 years, due to continuously scanty rainfall activity. The IMD has indicated that northwest and west-central parts of the country will continue to experience above-normal temperatures in May as well.

“Sowing has started for tur, urad and moong beans in states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. If the heatwave continues and intensifies, then it will impact the crop,” Bimal Kothari, chairman, Indian Pulses and Grains Association, told ET. “Farmers will then again have to replant them. They may face losses but if they are covered under crop insurance, losses will be minimised.”

India produces 4 million tonnes (mt) of tur pulses, 2.5 mt of urad and 2.2 mt of moong beans. Tur takes 150 days to harvest while urad and moong beans take 100 days and 70 days, respectively, for harvesting.

India has produced a record 11.45 mt of mustard seed in this year’s rabi season. “The heatwave struck at the end of the harvesting season. This has damaged a portion of the crop that was harvested at the end of the season. However, the damage should be around 3%-4%,” said Vijay Data, managing director of edible oil manufacturing firm Vijay Solvex.

The early onset of summer season and the heatwave have impacted the wheat crop in the country. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have reported a 10-35% fall in yield on account of the heatwave. This may mar the government’s target of exporting 10 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-23.

Eastern India, too, has been impacted. “Harvesting is getting delayed as workers are not willing to work in the fields. We are hoping that the situation will improve,” said Suraj Agarwal, managing director, Tirupati Agro.

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