Drought is something we think of as being substantial and dramatic – months in which rain doesn’t fall, monsoons that never happen. But the truth about drought is that it is much more insidious – when average rainfall drops, crops fail even though rain happens and can appear plentiful.
Monsoon failure threatens farmers
In India, right now, the monsoon is failing to deliver. Yes, there has been rain most days between June and now, but the actual rainfall has been only a quarter of the usual vast deluge. Around 80% of India’s agricultural land is close to drought conditions, and the monsoon rains will end in September. The fear is twofold: that the rains won’t arrive, and that they will, telescoping immense rainfalls into the last few weeks of monsoon and causing flash floods and subsidence. This year’s rainfalls, so far, are the weakest since 2002, and 2002 was the worst year for Indian agriculture for more than fifty years. Food security is fragile in a country with a young population, greedy for consumer goods, and unwilling to spend hours on cultivating subsistence crops.