Data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday showed the total area under kharif crops is 98.6 million hectares against 102 million hectares reported in the same period last year, a decline of 3.4%.
Apart from cotton, the area sown for all other kharif crops is lower this time around. At 36 million hectares, the area under paddy is only marginally lower but India may need to import more pulses this year given the sowing area has been lower. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Friday the exact area sown would be known by September 15.
The sowing of kharif crops begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon from June, while harvesting commences from October. The rainfall deficit may further decline with the met department predicting more rainfall in the next few days; the monsoon this year picked up pace in the July and August after a sluggish beginning.