New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar will lead a team to drought-affected areas in four states-Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan - during August 1-3 to assess the rain deficit and water scarcity situation.
"The meeting will be held with the Chief Ministers of the affected states and will review the rainfall deficiency and its impact on kharif crops, water and fodder availability," a senior Agriculture Ministry official said.
The Agriculture Minister will first visit Maharashtra on August 1 and later Karnataka on August 2. He will hold meetings in Gujarat and Rajasthan on August 3, the official said.
The central team will comprise of 10-12 members including agriculture secretary, animal husbandry secretary and rural development secretary, the official added.
While the all-India average of rainfall deficiency is 21 per cent, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan are worst affected regions.
Different regions in Karnataka have seen rain deficiency between 21 per cent to 44 per cent with the maximum impact felt in South interior parts of the state.
Western Rajasthan has received 64 per cent less rainfall in the season, Saurashtra and Kutch regions in Gujarat are short by 78 per cent so far, according to weather office data.
Due to deficient rains, the Karnataka government has declared drought in 142 taluks and has also announced Rs 3,500 crore package to mitigate farmers` suffering.
Sowing of pulses and coarse cereals (like maize, jowar and bajra) has been affected the most. Although paddy area is also down by 18 lakh hectares so far, there is still hope that shortfall will be made up as paddy season extends till August.
The government has conceded that production in 2012-13 would be lower than the last year`s record output.