The Agriculture Ministry has despatched consultants to drought-hit States to advise them on rabi sowing preparations. The feedback of these technical personnel will be taken into account while evolving strategy for timely sowing of rabi wheat to take advantage of the later southwest monsoon rainfall.

A meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on Drought here on Monday decided to sound States on the timely sowing of rabi against the backdrop if the India Meteorological Department forecast of a likely lull in the monsoon.

Good rainfall in the last fortnight has led to the average decline of monsoon deficiency to 21 per cent. While this may not reduce the effect of drought, it will help in improving the standing crop and their productivity. The productivity of sugar crop is expected to rise by five cent. In any case, the decline in paddy cultivation will remain.

The meeting, chaired by Union Agriculture Secretary T. Nanda Kumar, reviewed the steps taken to tackle scarcity of drinking water in Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra. Rajasthan is preparing to buy drinking water from neighbouring States.

The meeting also reviewed the availability of seeds, fertilizers and fodder, sources said.

Eleven states have declared drought owing to deficient rain and have sought additional central assistance for relief.

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