India: Himachal Pradesh threatened by drought

The month of September saw 77 per cent less rainfall than in a normal year and October remained dry as well. This means the spectre of drought now looms large over the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

The prolonged dry spell has affected the sowing of early varieties of different crops, mainly wheat, and the situation could worsen if rains continued to elude the hill state for some more days.

N.K. Badhan, state Agriculture Department Director, told “The sowing of crops won’t be possible till there is sufficient moisture in the soil. The production is bound to fall by 5 to 10 per cent. The situation is worrisome.”

The dry spell could also take a toll on cauliflower and cabbage crops, which were at transplantation stage. These crops are grown over 10,000 hectares — 5,200 cauliflower and 4,800 cabbage — mainly in Kullu, Mandi and upper Shimla region. Besides wheat and vegetables, barley, pulses, mustard and linseed are among the other crops grown in Himachal during the rabi season. The decline in temperature too could damage the crops, said agriculture experts.

The winter, meanwhile, has already set in tribal areas of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts, causing a sharp temperature drop.

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