Six states, two crops show stress due to erratic rains: CRISIL Drip index

Rains at the all-India level were in surplus as on September 4, at 1 per cent above normal or the long period average. At the state level, the amount of rains were around 20-33% above normal in three states, but a worrying 20-36% below normal in four — Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Given the erratic nature of rainfall this year — rapid catch-up and excess in some states, continued deficiency in few, and delayed catch-up in some others — some damage to crops is inevitable. Though farmers have taken up re-sowing in a few states, obviating some potential dent in production there, production is expected to be lower on-year in a few crops. On the whole, however, the abundant rainfall has improved chances of healthy rabi production, given the recharge of groundwater and higher reservoir levels.

Latest data shows rains have been the most abundant in central India, at 14% above normal, followed by the southern region at 9% above normal. In the northwest, rains were in the normal zone, at 6% below normal, while in the east they have been weak at 19% below normal. 

That said, rainfall volume data alone does not tell the whole story. We need to also consider vulnerabilities that arise from inadequate irrigation for a comprehensive perspective on states and crops. CRISIL’s Deficient Rainfall Impact Parameter (DRIP) does just that. The higher the CRISIL DRIP score, the more adverse the impact of deficient rains. We compare scores not just with the previous year, but also with the last five-year average to get a more holistic picture.

Latest DRIP scores show some stress in six states. The scores are the highest and also higher than trend in three of these — West Bengal, Bihar and Haryana — and higher on-year in the other three — Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana. This suggests crops there are likely to have suffered considerably. 

Crop-wise, the scores are slightly higher on-year and also closer to trend in paddy and sugarcane, suggesting some stress in those crops. One of the limitations of the DRIP framework is that it does not factor in the adverse impact of excess rainfall. Similarly, it does not consider the impact of re-sowing of crops that farmers might engage in. And inter-crop scores are the highest for paddy.

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