Crop sowing is largely affected due to erratic monsoon rains. July, the peak sowing month, was completely dry. Due to lower area coverage under crop, kharif agricultural output is likely to decline. If the decline in kharif output is to be compensated, the farm production in the coming rabi season needs to be sufficiently increased.
Inaugurating the two-day national conference on agriculture for rabi campaign 2004-05 here on Friday, Union agriculture secretary Radha Singh said that as per assessment made on September 13, total area sown in this years kharif season was 957 lakh hectare compared to 1016 lakh hectare sown in the like period last year.
Thus, there is a shortfall of 59 lakh hectare in area coverage under different crops. In Rajasthan there is a shortfall in area coverage under coarse cereals and pulses. In other states where rainfall was erratic, area coverage of different crops have declined.
Ms Singh admitted that kharif production was likely to suffer and therefore there was a need to boost production in the coming rabi season. She said that a significant surge in sale of fertilisers was experienced in the kharif season. This was due to early arrival of the monsoon and subsequent expectations of good rains continuing. There is therefore a good unutilised stock of fertilisers. But in spite of this situation, the government is making all efforts to ensure adequate availability of urea in the rabi season, she said.
Realising the importance of farm extension services, the secretary said that the government proposed to cover 252 districts under National Agricultural Technology Programme. Highlighting the inadequacies in the on-going farm insurance schemes, she said that the government was seriously engaged in improving the insurance and risk management cover. Ms Singh said that the insurance scheme would be a multi-product aimed at providing comprehensive coverage to farmers.