Monday, October 05, 2009

Drought in India sends food prices rising

We have heard a lot about the drought in East Africa, but India's monsoon season just ended, and there wasn't much rainfall. Already food prices are soaring in India and economists fear it will further undo gains made against poverty in the last 10 years.

From the Wall Street Journal writer Vibhuti Agarwal tells us the extent of India's drought.

The drought could threaten India's otherwise robust economic growth. About half of India's 1.2 billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Many economists forecast that gross domestic product will expand about 6% this year, but the weak monsoon already has sent food prices skyrocketing and is expected to stoke inflation.

"The monsoon this year has left the country with the worst drought since 1972," said Awadhesh Kumar, the forecasting officer at the Indian Meteorological Department in New Delhi.

Among the worst-affected regions were the major rice- and cereal-growing northern and western states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in August that the government had enough food stocks to handle the prolonged drought. But the drought is expected to have a severe impact on the rural poor, a focus of the current government, which was re-elected earlier this year on a platform of improving life for ordinary Indians.

"The government has failed to pull the poor out of the crisis," said Devinder Sharma, a food-policy analyst at the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security based in New Delhi.

"The severe drought has pushed back the household economy of farmers in the rural areas by 10 years."

1 comment:

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