According to IMD's meteorological centre at Shimla, Himachal received 41.7 millimetres of rain/snow in March against a long period average (LPA) of 110.9 mm.
With rain and snow remaining largely deficient in the month of March, Himachal Pradesh continues to head towards a drought-like situation this summer. The state has recorded a deficit of 62 per cent in precipitation during March, preceded by a deficit of 80 per cent in February and 58 per cent in January. Water sources in Himachal have been drying up or running low, while shortage of rain has affected rabi crops in a state where around 80 per cent of the cultivated area is rainfed.
“The average yield of mustard crop in my land is one quintal, but it is not likely to exceed 8 to 10 kilogram this time. Similarly, the yield of barley will not be more than 10 to 15 per cent of the average. In case of wheat, the crop has not even developed sufficiently this time due to lack of rains,” said Om Prakash Thakur, a resident of Dhami in Shimla district.
According to IMD’s meteorological centre at Shimla, Himachal received 41.7 millimetres of rain/snow in March against a long period average (LPA) of 110.9 mm. It was the second-largest rain deficit in the state during March in the last 10 years. The highest deficit of 67 per cent occurred in 2018, when state capital Shimla had suffered a severe water crisis in summer.
This March, all 12 districts of Himachal witnessed ‘deficiency’ or ‘large deficiency’ in rain as per IMD’s classification. Kangra, Hamirpur and Sirmaur were the most-affected, recording a deficit of 84, 79 and 77 per cent respectively, while Kullu (40 per cent), Mandi (40 per cent) and Shimla (41 per cent) recorded the least deficit.
According to Pankaj Gupta, associate director of Regional Horticultural Research and Training Station at Mashobra, shortage of rain and snow this year has adversely affected temperate fruits such as apples, cherries and pears in their fruit set stage. “The chilling requirements of these fruits could not be completed this winter due to lack of adequate snow and farmers have been demanding an official declaration of drought. Apples are now entering the flowering stage, but the flowering is neither expected to be profuse nor simultaneous. Plants are flowering in small patches which reduces pollination. What happens later during the fruit development stage remains to be seen,” he said.
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