EGoM to discuss drought situation next week

Agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar today raised the prospect of drought for the first time this year, saying today that officials would discuss next week the so-far scanty monsoon precipitation that is key to the economy.

According to Pawar, members of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought would meet as early as Tuesday for the first time since 2009, which was the year when the monsoon was the driest in four decades.

"An (empowered group of ministers) on drought is likely to meet on Tuesday, but I am seeking the availability of other ministers," Pawar told reporters. "We will discuss the situation there."

India which is one of the world's largest consumers and producers of agricultural commodities including sugar, rice, cereals, oilseeds and pulses, has over 50 per cent of its farmlands irrigated by the monsoon.

The four-month season accounts for 75 per cent of the country's annual rainfall with around of half of that delivered usually in June and July.

Halfway into the season, though the monsoon is around 22 per cent below average but the government is yet to declare the shortfall as a drought, although it has warned that the rains for the whole season would likely to be weaker than usual.