July rains key to kharif sowing

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 2 2013, 02:09am hrs
While most parts of the country have got excess rains during June, the focus is now on the rainfall in July, which would prove crucial for production of rice, oilseeds and pulses.

Agricultural experts say due to early arrival of monsoon in key rice growing regions of eastern, central and northern India, many farmers have started direct seeding of rice, instead of the usual raising of nursery and, then, transplanting the saplings in the field.

This year, around 25% of farmers have used the direct seeding method, while the rest are following the conventional method of raising nursery, Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), a Cuttack-based national institute under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, told FE.

He said because of delayed monsoon in many paddy-growing regions, transplantation went on till September last year. The transplantation work should be completed by July and August this year, depending on the progress of monsoon, he said.

According to latest data from the agriculture ministry, rice has been sown over 3.9 million hectare (mh) till last week against 2.9 mh during the same period last year. Total area under rice cultivation in the country is estimated at around 44 mh. More than 88% of rice is grown in the kharif season.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted rainfall for July 2013 at 101% of its long-period average (LPA), which is the average countrywide annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000. While monsoon rains were 50% above normal till June 10, till Sunday, the cumulative rainfall was 37% excess for June.

Meanwhile, IMD on Sunday predicted rains in Uttarakhand,UP, Orissa,Chhattisgarh,Gujarat,westcoastandeastern&Northeasternstates. The eastern and Northeastern states have got 39% less rainfall till now.

Early onset of monsoon has also given a boost to pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds. While pulses have been sown in more than a million hectare till now, coarse grains and oilseeds have been sown in close to 3 mh and 6 mh, respectively.

If monsoon remains normal during next two months, we can expect a bumper harvest, but all will depend on the weather in the next few weeks, an agriculture ministry official said.

Rice production during 2012-13 was 104 mt, out of which 90 mt was grown in the kharif season. Due to the monsoon failure in 2009-10, paddy production declined 14% to 89.09 mt. India is the second-biggest producer of rice in the world and it accounts for 20% of the total global output.