Rain deficit unlikely to impact food production: Jaitley

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday that the forecast of deficit rain during the monsoon this year would not have any significant impact on food production owing to geographical distribution of the rainfall.

He told media persons here that forecast of rainfall appears to be on closer side of normal in south and central India and in the northeast, and there was “slight inadequacy, if at all” in the north-west.

Jaitley, however, noted that a large part of north-western India, including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, has substantial irrigation facility.

“On account of geographical distribution, the impact on food grain production may not be very significant. There was similar pattern last year. Advance predictions are somewhat better than last year. In any case, there is abundance of food grains available,” he said.

Noting the government prevented “any inflationary trend in food management” last year, Jaitley said: “For anybody to draw conclusion of inflation, some kind of distress situation is far fetched.”

These conclusions were drawn in an “exaggerated manner”, he said.

Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday that rainfall this monsoon was likely to be deficient with 88 (plus or minus four) percent of the long period average (LPA).

“The latest forecast is bothering me…Let’s pray to god that the forecast does not come true,” he had said.

The rainfall was likely to be 85 percent of LPA over northwest India, 90 percent of LPA over central and northeast India, and 92 percent over the southern peninsula with a model error of plus or minus eight percent.

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