mandag 10. august 2009

Weak monsoon in India

On our journey from Hyderabad to Vijayawada the train I noticed that while the landscape was green it looked a bit dry considering that we are still at the tail end of the monsoon season. Not all the fields had been planted and yet here and there bushes and trees already looked dry and parched. Turns out that the monsoon has been quite poor this year. In Andra Pradesh, where all HAMU'sprojects are located, the rainfall has been 25-40 % less than in a normal year. Farmers are getting anxious about their crops and some are debating planting chillies insted of cotton, the latter a far more water-intensive crop. There has been considerably less rice planted than usual. Food prices have already shot up and will continue to do so. Lentils (dal) now cost almost twice as much as last year, and the price of other commodities like tea, sugar, milk and potatoes have also risen. Meanwhile,the politicians have taken a wait and see-approach to the situation. Instead of looking at ways to provide farmers with water for their crops (60 % of all farmland is still dependent on rainfall for irrigation) they are telling people to pray for more rain. According to Babu Goginieri, IHEU coordinator for Asia, in Andra Pradesh one million litres of milk have been sacrificed to the gods in more than one hundred temples across the state in an effort to deal with the problem. He is upset that so much milk that could have been given to babies has been wasted, and that politicians are letting religion guide their decisions instead of common sense. Apparently modern India is becoming more and more removed from its secular ideals.

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