A bad monsoon in India is the one that fails to deliver enough rain … most of the time. This year, a lack of rainclouds could be the silver lining that the government needs. India has no place left to store more grain, and can ill afford a hefty payout to farmers for the truckloads of produce that another monsoon could produce.
The annual four-month monsoon rains begin around June 1. More than half of the country’s arable land relies on the monsoon to grow the crops that help feed the world’s second-biggest country by population and put India’s rice and sugar on the global market.
But India’s last drought was five years ago. Food stocks have swelled so much since then that government warehouses, which house the grain sold at very low prices to the poor, are overflowing. Much is wasted, rotting or eaten by rats. The last thing that the government needs is another big crop yield.
India’s harvest from the current crop year to June 2014 is forecast to be a record 263.2 million tonnes of grain, enough to give at least a tonne to every average-sized household, and nearly four times what is needed for government handouts to the poor.
The bounty is not helping India tame high food inflation because the government pays farmers generous minimum support prices, inflating its subsidy bill, and its stockpiling has kept supplies to the open market tight.