Excess or normal monsoon rains received in more than 87% of the regions so far have given boost to the sowing of kharif crops, especially paddy, pulses, oilseeds and coarse grains.
According to ministry of agriculture data released on Friday, kharif sowing so far has surpassed last year’s sowing by close to 5%. With the exception of sowing of cotton and sugarcane, which are down by 8%, the cultivation of all key kharif crops have exceeded last year’s figure.
Kharif crops sowing, which usually begins after the onset of the monsoon rains in early June, has crossed 1,019 lakh hectare so far, against 973 lakh hectares sown a year ago. According to an agriculture ministry official, kharif crops are usually sown in 1,062 lakh hectare across the country. “The kharif sowing is expected to continue for another week,” an agriculture ministry official told FE.
The pulses have been sown in 34% more areas compared with the previous year. Kharif pulses are usually sown in 108 lakh hectares, while this year, mainly because of adequate monsoon rains and a spike in prices in the last couple of months, farmers have sown pulses in 139 lakh hectares so far.
A couple of months back, as the retail prices of arhar, or tur, rose sharply, forcing the Centre to import pulses for buffer stock, sowing has increased close to 47% to 51.20 lakh hectares so far against only 34.85 lakh hectares sown in the same period previous year. Arhar is usually sown in 40 lakh hectares in the kharif season. Similarly, the sowing of urad has rose by more than 27% to 33.67 lakh hectares compared with last year, while it is usually sown in 24 lakh hectares.
Due to reports of whitefly pest attacks in some parts of Punjab, cotton sowing has declined compared with last year. The agriculture ministry has set the country’s grain production target at 270.10 million tonne (mt) for the 2016-17 crop year (July-June), up 6.7% from the actual grain production of 253.23 mt in 2015-16.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, the quantum of rainfall during June 1-August 25 has been more than 652 mm, which is 3% less than the benchmark Long Period Average (LPA). Till now, 20% of the country’s area has got ‘excess’ rainfall while 67% has received ‘normal’ rainfall. Only 13% of the areas have received deficient rainfall. With the exception of Punjab, the Gujarat region and Coastal Karnataka where rainfall has been ‘deficient’, most of the regions across the country have so far received ‘normal’ or ‘excess’ monsoon rainfall.
Earlier in the month, IMD stated that rainfall during the second half (August–September) would be ‘above normal’ at 107% of the LPA, with a model error of ±8%.The MeT department also reiterated its June’s forecast by stating that overall rainfall during monsoon season (June-September) will be 106% of LPA following two successive years of ‘deficient’ monsoon (2014 & 2015).